What breastfeeding mums really, really need
How many nursing mothers give up breastfeeding due to absence of support? Can a mum only dream of a world that allows her to feed in peace?
The Tamil Nadu government recently inaugurated a mothers’ milk bank at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital in Tiruchirapalli and a separate feeding room in the Central Bus Stand to encourage nursing mothers feed their babies in privacy, say sources.
To mums, this surely is yay news. Finding a place to nurse in public is impossible, and this initiative is commendable. It’s a small step in an endeavour to support the stressed Indian Maa, considering we have a mountain to scale when it comes to successfully aiding her breastfeed.
As a society, we claim to be supportive of breastfeeding, but we hardly find feeding rooms in public places, friendly workplace policies or at times, even an encouraging spouse. The nursing mother often gives in to the bottle, as hassles of breastfeeding do not allow her to get back to normalcy post pregnancy.
Today’s mum does not wish to be chained to her house just because she chooses to breastfeed. She still wants to work, party, shop, travel and yet provide the best for her child. Why should motherhood make her lose her identity? But, does she have an option? When in public, even if she discreetly tries to feed her baby, she is always exposed to peering, lecherous, judging eyes who do not allow her to do something so natural.
We women do not want to wear sarees or dupattas like our mothers did just because they are a ready nursing cover. We want to continue wearing pants, yet feel safe and at peace with motherhood in society. So, here’s what breastfeeding mums want to be happier mums and raise healthier, happier babies!
What nursing mums want
Nursing rooms in public places
Few public places offer a dedicated place to change a baby’s nappy, let alone breastfeed. The market encourages the modern mum to spend on prams, baby carriers and breast pumps. All these equipments tell the mother- “Go out with your baby,” but where can she provide the baby his right to nature’s food?
Our shopping areas badly need a basic ‘Mummy and baby space’. In restaurants, when we ask, “where can I feed my baby?”, we don’t need a finger pointing to the toilet door.
One measly nursing room in an entire airport is not adequate when you have to calm your screaming baby who’s terrified of crowds. And if the room is nowhere near your terminal, then God help you. Yes, we are a space crunched nation. But a small room with a few chairs can be spared for us. It is a necessity.
Mum-friendly policies at the workplace
Some companies are trying to revamp their maternity benefit policies to help their women balance motherhood and work. But not all firms allow that. According to a leading daily, absence of a flexible workplace policy is the chief reason for women to drop breastfeeding.
A woman needs her employers to assure her that she can confidently bring up her children and be career-driven as well. We do not want our co-workers assuming that our mommy brains will make us under-perform. Simple things like the choice of an extended maternity leave, providing a space at work to use the breast pump, or a cab service home will motivate us to give our best at work.
Continue reading to know what more breastfeeding mums want!
Support from the spouse
Yes, we know, fathers nowadays are more aware of what it takes to bring up a baby. But there are times when the husbands assume that this is all a mother’s job as they are not blessed with breastfeeding abilities. It may look easy, but breastfeeding is tough.
So we want from the dear husband, is to just ask if we need something when we’re nursing. Or help with something they’re capable of, like diaper changing. Or wake up at least twice in the night to feed expressed milk. More often than not we will just be thrilled that you asked, hubby.
An understanding extended family
It might take a while for well-meaning relatives to stop offering unsolicited advice. Anyone who has remotely even held a baby has something to say on the way you breastfeed. “You’re holding him wrong!”, “Tch! He’s not getting enough.” Such statements only make a breastfeeding mum doubt herself. We definitely respect you. But the least you can do, dear mother-in-law, mum or auntie, is to help us find a solution to a problem if approached, not demean.
As mums, we need to help other mums. Friends don’t judge each other. Let’s avoid pushing our opinions down other mum’s throats. It’s a mum’s choice to work or stay at home. It’s her choice to keep her baby awake till 10pm. It’s not her fault if she produces only 50ml of expressed milk. We already have too much to be stressed out. We need all the help and support. Let’s hear out and handhold each other through this wonderful journey of breastfeeding like true friends.
Tell us what you really really want, breastfeeding mums? Share them in comments.