How can Indian working women overcome breastfeeding challenges in public?
In India, young breastfeeding mothers face two major challenges: Stigma and lack of resources for privacy in public. Yet, a hungry infant needs milk. Although this is a basic and very natural part of embracing motherhood, the embarrassment of feeding in public is undeniable without adequate facilities. Women going to malls with babies have only a tiny area to change diapers in the crowded toilets on weekends! But feeding space is not even considered a necessity.
The benefits of breastfeeding are being championed. But the reality is different, as 93% of working women do not even have breastfeeding facilities at their workplace. It is time for Lotus Hospital for women and children to address issues and offer tips and counselling for breastfeeding mothers.
Facts about common breastfeeding challenges
Most Indian cities do not have exclusive rooms in public or in offices for this important phase of motherhood. When a woman resumes her job, she has to forgo the basic necessity, which hurts the child in the growing years.
When a woman is forced to step out of the house, options to feed include car parks, restaurants, public transport, and store trial rooms! At airports, the only means available are broom closets. Sometimes she has to use the waiting areas in banks or offices. Family functions, PTA meetings in school, and temple queues are also used in challenging ways.
None of the above are hygienic places offering safety and peace for feeding. There is no privacy, and ‘stares’ create uneasiness. New mothers need to be trained to avoid emotional and physical fatigue related to feeding.
Nursing in private is easier, but not in public!
Leakages, engorgement, or showing skin are major issues while feeding. If the baby is fussy, mothers feel they are not giving adequate milk. A pregnancy is exhaustive, involving labor, delivery, and caring for the infant.
At Lotus Hospital, an experienced gynaecologist for lactation counselling clears all doubts and offers breastfeeding tips for working moms. They are trained to manage schedules for timely feeding, even in public.
Experts speak about handling challenges
Currently, India ranks 78 when it comes to implementing breastfeeding initiatives for working mothers. If barriers are addressed, infants will get the desired and nutritious breast milk.
Mothers with jobs, get six months of paid leave for up to two children. If employers have dedicated spaces for nursing mothers, productivity is not affected. Female contract workers also get the space to nourish their babies. All these clauses are mentioned in the Maternity Act.
Keep in touch with lactation consultants
Babies have a problem with latching, adding to the problem. Women in India prefer to speak to their relatives, friends or watch YouTube videos to gain knowledge. Many are not even aware of milk banks across the country. Several mothers are aware of breast pumps which can be used when they are busy with chores or the office. However, speaking to a seasoned lactation expert is better.
Tips for breastfeeding in public
- A lactation consultant will teach you techniques to help the baby latch and the best positions for feeding. Get guidance to reduce sore nipples or inadequate milk supply.
- Create a support system. You can involve partners, relatives, office colleagues, or friends. They give encouragement for a successful feeding routine.
- Join a support group. Discuss the issues and understand you are not alone. It will offer mental peace. It will be less draining physically and emotionally.
- Take the advice of experienced mothers. They have ‘gone through’, ‘been there’, ‘done that.’ They will give tips to make the journey familiar.
- Reduce stress while feeding in public. Breastfeeding is natural. There should be no embarrassment. If you are worried, do meditation and yoga. It will also have a positive effect on the baby.
- Learning process for the mother and baby. There are several ways to get integrated support if you are a single working mother. With patience and perseverance, it will not be a chore.
Lotus Hospital provides lactation consultants who connect new mothers with their babies. Even after delivery, women can visit them in the hospital. We encourage you to seek medical advice regarding nourishment for your infant. It is also important to feed for at least 6 months to avoid infections and diseases.