Pin It
Monday, April 30th, 2012

Breastfeeding in Jordan

By
Breastfeeding in Jordan-incultureparent via flickr

When my parents moved to Amman, Jordan to teach at the American School, my daughter was just over a year old and I was pregnant with our second child. Even though my parents encouraged us to visit them once the baby was born, traveling to the Middle East with two infants (one breastfeeding) was not high on my list of fun family vacations. Yet, as my parents’ stories of warm, friendly people, beautiful country and layers of history trickled back to us via email, I began to imagine that we might be able to make the journey. It depended partly, of course, on this new baby.

 

Our son, Nolan, was born with an easygoing disposition and a healthy appetite. Eventually, we decided to make the trek. As we packed up most of the house and set off on a trip halfway around the world with a toddler whose favorite word was “no” and a 19-pound, four-month-old who wanted to nurse every two hours around the clock, I began to wonder if we had inched over the line from adventurous to insane.

 

I anticipated that breastfeeding in public would be a problem in a country where the Muslim women routinely covered their heads and exposed very little flesh. I knew that I could nurse discreetly, but feared that even the idea of a breastfeeding baby in public could cause problems. A Lebanese-born nurse in my pediatrician’s office suggested that I use a breast pump and feed Nolan from a bottle when in public. Although I knew a breast pump could be my best shot at cultural sensitivity, I was not too excited about this option.

 

My first foray into the world of breastfeeding in public in Jordan was not exactly “public,” as Nolan and I ended up in a toilet stall. I wasn’t up to pushing the cultural envelope at a quaint little village restaurant, so I retreated to the toilet. I was amazed at the reception Nolan and I received. The universality of a breastfeeding mother far outweighed the difference in nationalities, and women came over to watch, converse and tickle the baby. It was a heartening ex,perience.

 

Emboldened, I began to nurse in more public places. I tried to take my cues from other breastfeeding mothers, but alas, I saw none. Apparently it is customary for children to be kept indoors for much of their first year, and though there were many older children, infants were not in evidence.

 

Without any role models, I continued to nurse discreetly. I turned my back when possible and I always wore suitable clothing. Not once was I made to feel out of place. What’s more, I was always treated with respect and given privacy.

 

By our third and final week in Jordan, I behaved much like I do at home. I hadn’t caused any international incidents and felt comfortable nursing Nolan discreetly in public. Curious about breastfeeding customs, I began asking around. One woman I met told me that breastfeeding is encouraged in the Arab world. Where she had lived in Dubai, it is an actual law, though difficult to enforce, that women breastfeed their infants during the first three months of life. I also read that Queen Rania of Jordan arranged her full schedule around the breastfeeding needs of her infant daughter.

 

It wasn’t until we were boarding the plane to leave that my questions were more fully answered. There sat a veiled woman, dressed head to toe in black, with one breast fully exposed in order to nurse her baby. On the surface, this woman and I were separated by culture, language, customs and dress, yet we were connected by the same intimate bond that has joined women since the beginning. We were breastfeeding mothers.

© 2012 – 2015, Joan Carlton Griswold. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan

Colleague drank your breast milk from the work fridge again? Tales of breastfeeding in Mongolia

What Makes Breastfeeding so Darn Controversial?

Why the breastfeeding debate remains downright radical after all this time

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Joan lives in Washington State with her two children.

Leave us a comment!

4 Comments
  1. CommentsSaturday Surfing — Au Coeur   |  Saturday, 05 May 2012 at 6:38 pm

    […] Breastfeeding in Jordan, InCulture Parent — Not as restrictive as one might think. […]

  2. CommentsKate   |  Sunday, 09 September 2012 at 9:52 am

    fascinating, thank you.

  3. CommentsGrowMama Picks for December 2012 » Grow Mama Grow   |  Monday, 31 December 2012 at 3:04 am

    […] Read this account of one woman’s breast feeding experience overseas in […]

  4. CommentsInCultureParent | Breastfeeding Around the World   |  Sunday, 05 May 2013 at 8:55 pm

    […] The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers exclusively breastfeed infants for their first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health, yet globally less than 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed. Chances are that if you’re reading this article, breastfeeding is not a matter of life or death for your child. However, in many poorer parts of the world where water is not clean, food may be scarce and formula expensive, breastfeeding can make a critical difference in children’s health, well-being and life expectancy. InCultureParent takes a look at the beauty of breastfeeding in pictures, together with facts and attitudes, surrounding breastfeeding globally. […]









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!

What Cultural Norms Around Bare Feet Taught This Mother in Guatemala

Her baby's bare feet ended up being a lesson on poverty and privilege.
Nice list! I'm not sure if you were focusing only on current cartoons, but The Proud Family on Disney was a great show featuring an African American family and friends, t...
From 7 Diverse Children’s Cartoons (where the main character isn’t the standard white one)
[…] yet different, their cultural practices and customs are. I also had to check out their list 10 Multicultural Children’s Books that Make Adults Cry. Not that I like to cry all that much,...
From 10 Multicultural Children’s Books that Make Adults Cry
[…] I love books with strong female characters! And along that note, I also noticed My Friend Mei Jing, a book that celebrates cross-cultural friendship. Told from the perspective of Monifa, w...
From A Book that Celebrates Cross-Cultural Friendship
[…] InCultureParent has a multitude of book reviews for parents raising little global citizens. Most of them feature multicultural characters, and a few really caught my eye. The Sofia Martine...
From The Sofia Martinez Series: Chapter Books for Early Readers
[…] http://www.incultureparent.com/2011/08/mothers-to-be-pregnancy-around-the-world/#slide1 […...
From Mothers-To-Be: Pregnancy Around the World
great article. I am still going with my 3 and a half year old - but just at night and when he awakens in the morning. I do however, limit who I tell this to as it is not the norm here in New Zeala...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
As a southern Italian woman I can say that your ideas in this piece are a little antiquated and overgeneralised. Perhaps this is still the case for men living in the 1950's and also for many migrant...
From French versus Italian Parenting in One Multicultural Family
I did this with my children, ironically because I was too young to know what else to d...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
I noticed that some mothers wrote, "I fed my child constantly and he/she still cried a lot!" Well, bottle feeding and breastfeeding are completely different. Did you "breastfeed" your child constant...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry

More Global Parenting