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TitleLived Experiences of breastfeeding in Jogjakarta, Indonesia
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LanguageEnglish
File Size2.2 MB
Total Pages220
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weight. But to their disappointment, Ella did not like formula, so they discontinued it. Part of

their disappointment may be tied to Javanese perception that parents with small babies were poor

while children who were formula fed were from affluent familities.

So, a fat baby was a sign of abundance. One day I was at the mall with my research

assistant eating pizza. A woman who was sitting next to us had a baby boy who was big. By my

estimation, he weighed more than ten pounds and people who passed by congratulated her.

Initially, I was confused about why people were praising her, and my research assistant

explained to me that big babies were pleasing to the eye. It is also a sign that either his mother’s

breast milk is nutritious, or his parents were wealthy enough to afford formula. Some of my

participants often complained about how thin my research assistant and I were. We were

regarded as people who were not eating properly and on time. At one point, the mother of one of

my participants had her hands all over my research assistant. She was rubbing her arms, holding

her shoulders and told her she needed to eat more food to gain some weight.

Unlike Putri, Ambar and Fadila introduced supplementary foods to their infants because

they needed to work. Ambar lived and worked in Jogja while her husband and son lived in

Purwokerto, 167 kilometers away. She returned to work six weeks after giving birth. While at

Jogja, she expressed her milk, stored it in a workplace refrigerator and transported it home every

Friday. Ambar did everything possible to ensure that her son Joko was breastfed. However, she

gave up feeding Joko only breast milk and introduced formula when Joko was four months old.

She explained to me the circumstance that made her, and the husband Priyadi introduce formula

milk to Joko:

I stored pumped breast milk in the fridge and returned to work for the week. He finished

all the expressed breast milk in three days. He is a boy, so he drinks a lot of breast milk. I

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was at Jogja working, so I could not send the expressed milk. Consequently, my husband

and I decided that he feeds Joko formula until I returned home on Friday with the

expressed milk. Since then, we mixed the breast milk and the formula milk for him.

During the day, he drinks formula milk and at night he drinks the breast milk. Initially, he

found it difficult to drink the formula milk. He knows the taste difference between

formula milk and breast milk. He seems not to like the formula milk, yet he has to adapt

to my situation.

Fadila’s experiences reinforced the notion of work as a reason some mothers introduced solid

food to infants earlier. She introduced formula to Lily as a supplementary food when she was

two and a half months old. She explained to me that her maternity leave was cut short because

she had to attend training outside of Jogja for three days. Fadila recalled that as the only one in

the office who qualified to participate in the training; she could not reject her supervisor’s

request to attend the training. Consequently, she left her daughter, Lily, with her mother. Before

leaving for the workshop, she provided her mother with one box of formula that she could use to

feed Lily. Upon her return to Jogja, she decided to continue feeding Lily with the formula so that

the remaining formula would not go to waste. Juleha, on the other hand, faced many

breastfeeding challenges and had to introduce formula as a supplementary food as early as two

weeks after birth. In a sorrowful conversation with her, she explained that she could only express

between 10- 20 mL of breast milk at a time. After every breastfeeding, Aryo cried which she

interpreted as a sign of insufficient milk. Breastfeeding advocates would suggest that the signs

that Juleha read as a sign of low milk supply did not actually indicate low milk supply. Often

women pump far less than they actually produce for their babies. Besides the perceived

inadequate milk supply, she also had cracked nipples, and clogged milk ducts which

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