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Exclusive breastfeeding is not easy. Not only does it drain you out physically and mentally but you have to think many times before you leave your home. What if the baby needs a feed immediately? What clothes should I wear? Do I have a clean front-open top ready? Do I have a scarf or a covering sheet to cover myself? Will I find a place to feed my baby without inviting public glare? These questions are always a concern for an exclusively breastfeeding mum.
Adding to it, there are hardly places where there are spaces allocated for baby care. I have only seen them at airports. I have been to malls and asked the guards for a baby care room only to be disappointed with the answer that there are none. I recently went to a mall in Chennai which had a prayer room. Now, I have nothing against prayer room. But isn't a baby room more necessary?
Government and the W.H.O promotes the fact that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months but unfortunately most public places have no amenities for a new mum.
You have a small baby, you chose to take some time-off from your daily routine and go out but your baby needs to be fed every 2 hours or baby is extremely cranky and would not settle for anything else except breastfeed. What do you do now? Of course, your baby is your first priority. So, you find some quiet place, cover your upper body with a scarf and start feeding your baby. Suddenly, the baby is uncomfortable with the cover and is trying his best to remove the scarf. While you are juggling all this, some men ogle at you because some part of your breast was seen, some older ladies are wondering why do you have to come out with a few month old baby and some others find it weird and amusing. After all the unnecessary glances, you are cursing yourself for choosing to come out.
It is unfortunate that there are no baby care rooms in most public places that we frequent. But what is even more unfortunate is the way people look at a mom who has to feed in public. MOMS do not intend to seduce unsuspecting men by showing off their breasts. In a country where mothers are supposedly idolized, are we doing justice to a woman who is just fulfilling the very basic requirement of her baby.
What can we do? Just basic manners like not staring, not passing comments and not making her uncomfortable will do. Let us ensure that no woman has to rush home with a wailing baby just because we were too immature to handle breastfeeding in public!
Image source: bump.com and parashospitals.com