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Taking care of breastfeeding moms is critical to mother and child health. Here’s more on the UNICEF #ProudToFeed campaign to support all lactating new moms.
Breastfeeding is the birth right of a baby; a basic yet a powerful instinct that binds a mother to her child. UNICEF has launched a campaign in India for supporting all lactating new moms to breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months. It is a campaign which demands a change in the attitude and approach of society in general towards all lactating mothers.
There are many taboos in place such as ‘Cover Up’,’ no one should watch you’, ‘you are not extracting enough’, ‘you are not breastfeeding your baby, My God! You are a bad mother‘. The list of social taboos and the ramifications of being a ‘bad mother’ just because you are not lactating enough and your baby is going hungry, or you are not breastfeeding your baby altogether, goes on endlessly.
Some of the demands that the campaign has raised are:
So are these demands feasible to implement?
I was lucky to have a good nurse beside me who would guide me through the initial process of breastfeeding but there are many who aren’t lucky enough. UNICEF’s demand for making this guidance compulsory in all the hospitals and nursing homes is indeed a justified demand.
As a new mom you are already recovering from the stressful episode of giving birth, whether naturally or through C-section. Physically your body is still vulnerable and on top of it the pressure of feeding your baby, change in sleep patterns, getting adjusted to the new rule ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ etc saps you. The accumulating levels of pressure and stress can be depressing for a new mom.
In this hour of need, guidance towards breastfeeding, guidance on foods that will help in producing more milk and also some psychological help from doctors and psychiatrists can be of great help. Postpartum depression isn’t unheard of, often a result of the mounting performance pressures the new mom goes through. Allotment of a midwife exclusively for the first 1 week is an excellent proposition to consider and reduce the possibility of post-partum depression.
UNICEF demands that women should be given at least 6 months of maternity leave. I too say that women should get at least 6 months of maternity leave; however, it should extend to 1 year in special cases like mine where my baby was severely allergic to powdered milk. She was so allergic that she would vomit it out till the last drop along with the bile; completely tiring herself out.
In conditions like these, working moms will find it a major challenge to re-join work even after 6 months because the transitional phase for a baby from exclusively breastfed to other forms of food is a slow and gradual process. For the mom too, it is a trial and error method; a phase where new foods are introduced to the baby and it needs patience to decipher whether the little body accepts the new intrusion or not. For a successful transformation and weaning of the baby, time is a critical deciding factor and not an overnight interlude.
A dedicated place where moms can extract their milk and store it in the freezers for future use is essential. Well, a logical and viable demand if the baby is in the same facility and in the same premises as the mom. But whether the companies are willing to invest in an exclusive facility with dedicated staff to watch over the babies when the mothers are busy in work is an interesting aspect to watch for because only then the demand is feasible. I think the logistical issues are too glaring and too expensive in a cost-cutting scenario where companies are constantly watching their bottom line. Instead, offering the mothers flexible working hours or part-time employment after the maternity leave expires for another 6 months is much more practical presently.
Baby changing rooms is perhaps more practical than exclusive feeding rooms. These changing rooms can double up as feeding rooms with a comfortable chair for the mother to sit on, give her back a comfortable trajectory and feed her baby. These rooms can also have a small diaper changing bay where if needed the babies can be given a fresh change of diapers. These rooms can also have a little pot suitable for toddlers who are in the transitional phase of potty training. In a country like India, where keeping a tab on the cleanliness of public toilets is equivalent to keeping a tab on the country’s ever increasing denizens, making these rooms chargeable can only ensure cleanliness and hygiene.
Although the demands posed by UNICEF for the new mothers of India are many, the practicality of the propositions cannot be ignored especially keeping in mind the percentage of population who need to be educated to use the establishments the way they are meant to be used. Awareness and education is therefore a must even as we work to create this infrastructure.
Many of us Indians have this epic habit of keeping our house clean at the cost of our surroundings. Hence, education is sought for not only at the level of literacy but also at the cognitive level where we as Indians realise that the cleanliness of our environment is as important as keeping our house clean.
Mother and child breastfeeding stamp image via Shutterstock
A part time backpacker, an accidental baker, a doting mother, a loving wife, a pampered
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