Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Last Thursday, a group of mums and their babies met at our centre. They chatted, drank tea and coffee, played, breastfed and generally had a good time all round.
This is not terribly remarkable in the day to day experience of life in the Australian Breastfeeding Association and is generally the norm most days here at the Breastfeeding Centre in Dandenong.
So why was this gathering notable?
These mothers were all Afghani migrants, with little English and no previous experience of the culture taken for granted by most Australian-born mums. As Muslims, their head scarves single them out in the community as *different* and cultural traditions tend to limit integration into our western society.
Now, I have heard for years, from various doom-sayers, that "these women" are not interested in groups like ABA, that they "won't go" to our coffee mornings and discussion meetings and anyway, they "don't have trouble breastfeeding". All possibly true, but not spouted by those who had tried and failed, but by those never brave enough to try and possibly fail.
My experience was, apart from my complete inability to speak any of their language and their limited abilities to speak some of mine, that this meeting was just the same as those I have attended during the past 25 years in ABA. There were a couple of mums worried about breastfeeding - one low supply that wasn't and one sore nipples that were! - and the others were just taking it in their stride. All were keen to participate in our limited discussion and indicated they would like to return another day.
It is time everyone threw out preconcieved notions of what migrant - and other - groups of mothers will or will not do. My theroy is, invite them and see what happens!