Why is breastfeeding in public still not acceptable?

I was in a frenzy, while my little 8 months old baby boy was wailing on the top of his lungs. I cursed myself for losing track of time and forgetting about his 4-hour feeding cycle while shopping in a local market in Delhi. He was crying hysterically to be fed. It was a hot day and I was out with my aunt who wanted my help for her daughter’s wedding trousseau. Although I thought of saying no because I knew it was going to be difficult with Abeer being so little and the heat outside, but she promised we won’t lurk around the market and just visit a few designer showrooms. “Atleast there will be AC!” I thought and went ahead with my little one. He soon dozed off as I nursed him in the nice air-conditioned changing room, of a posh designer showroom in South Delhi and I being a shopaholic myself, lost track of time. As everyone knows, women go berserk when they shop and so did we. We never knew when we reached to look for some miscellaneous random stuff in the local market around the showroom. Abeer woke up after his regular two-hour sleep, played with his rattle toy for sometime and soon started to cry. It was time for me to feed him again and damn! there was no changing room around here. The showroom we were in was far away and it was very hot outside. There were hundreds of people around and there was no way I was going to feed him there in front of everyone. This is India. It does not work like that here after all. As soon as the baby started to cry, people started to give me half annoyed and half sympathetic look. I tried feeding him some cookies, I kept for him, but he was in no mood to surrender. He wanted his portion and he wanted it now. I ran outside, not caring about the heat, to find any trial room or a restroom available. I went from one shop to another but all the trial rooms were full. It was weekend afterall, and with the wedding season fast approaching, people were all out for retail therapy. Finally, I found a shop and they were kind enough to give me some water first and then send me off to their stitching room. I thanked them and ran towards the 6*6 wooden compartment, which was already loaded with unstitched clothes piled all over and a stitching machine. The tailor left, as soon as I told him what I was planning to do there, and I without wasting anymore time shut the door and gave the crying baby, who had lost his patience by then and was nearly pissed at me, what he wanted. I was cramped with the baby in that room with no fan or AC, but I was thankful, I found a place away from the pruding eyes of people around.

I can tell you more such horror stories, where I sneaked under the big table in the conference room and feed the baby because there were cctv cameras everywhere or when I stood in the filthiest washroom I had ever seen and feed the baby, just to ignore the staring uncomfortable people around. Many times I would pump the milk in a bottle and would carry with me while travelling to places where I know it will be difficult to breastfeed. There are many, but at the same time I can share stories of the times, when I did not care about the stares and feed the crying baby in an aircraft and a train. There was one instance, when my 3 year daughter saw a cow feeding her calf and asked me what she was doing, in a car full of elderly relatives and I could feel the tension growing about my reply. I told her the fact without caring about anyone and few of them let out a sigh. Funny as it may sound, but isn’t it as natural as giving birth to the baby? why such a taboo about breastfeeding in our country whose population is about to explode soon?

At the same time in other countries, I have nursed my kids in open and no one gave me an eye about it. The world’s become quite a breastfeeding positive place. I’ve never gotten angry looks for nursing in public, and nobody’s ever suggested, that “There are children here! Can’t you do that in a room?”

Ubiquity and social acceptance vary from region to region. In rural India breastfeeding in public is completely acceptable. Definitely it is not a norm in higher sections of society, but is quite common in the lower economic sections.

I dread having to feed my baby anywhere outside of my own home. Mainly because it makes people so uncomfortable. Men and women both suddenly either stop making eye contact or you get the full attention of some creeps who attach breastfeeding to something sexual. Yes, there are men who support breastfeeding. There are men who understand what a sacrifice it can be, and think breastfeeding is a beautiful thing. But they still don’t know where to look, because they’re trying not to make the nursing lady uncomfortable.The problem isn’t me, and it’s not them, either. It’s that public breastfeeding hasn’t become normal enough, in our country.

Breastfeeding is a natural process that is important both for mother and baby. I remember myself at a wedding and my little girl wanted to be fed, so I covered myself with a shawl and started to feed. There was one guy sitting next to us, who could not take his eyes off. Although he could not see anything, as I was covered completely, still his imaginations knew no bound and he could not look away. My mother-in-law saw the look and went and asked him, if his mother ever nursed him and he said sorry and left. But the whole thing is this, that in our country, even though we know, that a child gets his best nourishment from the mother’s milk and how important it is, but it is still attached to a certain stigma. People find it sexual, to get a glimpse of a nursing mothers breast and by the time this stigma is not removed, we mothers won’t feel comfortable about breastfeeding in public and will have to depend on either formula milk or feeding bottles at public places.

Even though the practice may be legal or socially accepted, some mothers may still be reluctant to expose a breast in public to feed the baby, due to actual or potential objections by other people, negative comments, or harassment. It is not the duty of the mother alone. The child’s father and the family too should be supportive, especially in public places.

We see so many celebrities supporting the cause in our country, we see them talking about it and many celebrities went ahead and did a photo shoot nursing their babies, but the taboo around breastfeeding is far bigger.

A study reveals that more than 8 lakh babies die every year for lack of breastfeeding. It is definitely, the best form of nutrition for any child and an excellent way for a mother to connect with its child. Breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition a child can have during the starting year of its life. Breast milk contains Antibodies which help the child fight with many infection and diseases. It is equally beneficial for the mothers, as it rules out the possibility of having breast cancer to much extent.

India is definitely not a breastfeeding country but it surely and badly needs to be one.This is not surprising in our country, where cases of crime against women are rampant despite being fully covered. Feeding the baby even under dupatta or shawl feels uncomfortable to mothers. Lack of breastfeeding counters in public places like parks, shopping malls, railway stations etc. also discourage breastfeeding. Most mothers opt for bottle feeds when going out in public or traveling. Instead of giving nursing mothers some crampy compartments in trains and other places, we need special breastfeeding counters and educate people about it.

Although we seldom see few advertisements, run by government encouraging breastfeeding, we need to educate more and more people about it and make it a natural process to see a nursing mother in public, just like eating in public.

Families should be the best support system for these nursing mothers and should take good care of their health too. Eating a healthy diet while you are breastfeeding is equally important because what you eat determines the energy, protein, nutrient and vitamin content of your breast milk. So it is important to keep a tab of the diet, of a lactating mother, and families can surely play a role here.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life for optimum growth and health of the baby. Babies who are given feeds other than breast milk are known to have lesser immunity, more illnesses and require more hospitalizations.

So, in order to have a healthy tomorrow for our country, we need to make a move today and make breastfeeding a normal and natural process for everyone. That in return will make new mothers comfortable and they will be encouraged to nurse their babies whenever wherever needed.

Thank you for helping me through PPD (pre/post partum depression)

Maya has been married for two years now. She and Prateek had an arranged marriage in Bhopal, which was hometown to both of them. Maya was an ace lawyer in Delhi and Prateek was rapidly climbing the ladders of corporate world. Both were ambitious and made a bomb of salary. Their families were after them to start their own family, as the biological clock was ticking and Maya was 35 while Prateek was nearing 40, and their parents worried, if they delayed even more, they will never have a baby.

Although Maya wanted to wait some more but she gave in to family pressure and concieved a baby. She wanted to keep working through the pregnancy, but she had complications and was given bed rest for the entire first trimester. She started to work from home and was mostly stressed, as she was trying to rock both the boats at once. She had anxiety most of the times, as she was scared she was not doing enough at work, also she had confusion, fear and stress that she might loose the baby if she was not careful enough. She discussed the issue with few of her friends, who had babies, and they told her it must be hormonal imbalance.

Being a workaholic, she tried to work as much as she can from home, but she could not concentrate and her doctor told her to take full rest as mental pressure can lead to fetal loss. She took 4 months leave from her office and spent her time reading books and watching TV. But it was not enough.

For the first time in years she missed her mom. But she couldn’t stay with Maya, as she had a business to run in Bhopal. She promised to make arrangements and stay with Maya after the delivery.

After Prateek went to office she felt lonely and irritated. She couldn’t sleep much and developed the feelings of guilt or worthlessness. She felt unaccomplished and felt she was not good enough. She spoke to her doctor about it in the second month. The doctor told her, it could be prenatal depression and referred her to a psychiatrist.

Prateek was seriously worried about Maya by now and took permission from office to work from home. He also called his mother, who was happy to help and came instantly. With regular therapy sessions and love and care of Prateek’s mother, Maya started feeling better and less lonely. But still something was off in her.

She gave birth to a healthy baby boy. After the delivery, she was sad most of the time. She got irritated on lame things and was overwhelmed most of the times. She was ready to cry at the drop of a hat. The whole feeding the baby and changing diapers was a little too much for her. Although she loved her baby to the moon and back, but she felt trapped and on the edge all the time. She did not feel like talking to anyone or getting ready or going out. Even if Prateek asked her to leave the baby with his mother and go out for a movie, she refused. She was confused and disoriented.

Prateek understood the urgency of the situation only after he tried to find online the reasons behind her such behaviour. He knew it was time to visit the psychiatrist again.

As soon as she reached the psychiatrist, Maya started to cry and told her how she felt. She told the doctor she felt as if she failed as a mother. She took the blame of C-section delivery. She said she did not try hard enough. She wanted to give birth the natural way and it was all her mistake. She told the doctor she felt like a cow, feeding the baby all the time. She said she failed in giving proper care to the baby due to which the baby cried all the time and she could barely sleep. She was tired of cleaning, nursing and changing diapers all the time. She wanted to go back to her normal life and spend time with her husband too. She was irritated most of the time and wouldn’t let Prateek comfort her or even hug her. She hated her bloated body and wanted to wear nice clothes and spend some time in saloon getting her nails and hair done, but she never got free from the ever wailing and crying child.

The doctor helped her with some medicines, as well as, making a chart and a proper schedule for her. Prateek and his mother were both very supportive and they also took help from a nanny, who would take care of the baby, so Maya could catch on some sleep. The doctor advised her to meditate and join some support groups.

Prateek offered to take time off work and help her as much as possible. Over the next few months, she was exercising more and getting more sleep and had significant improvement in mood and energy.

Maya was feeling better soon enough because of the support she got from her husband and both the families. She was also thankful to her doctor. She cared for her child and family even more so, but now she took care of herself too. She went out with friends and Prateek on dates. She went to saloon. Slowly she started working again too. With the help of her doctor, family and husband, she got her life back.

So ladies and all you new moms out there, don’t shy away from taking all the possible help. Only a healthy and happy mother can give birth and raise happy healthy children and we all know there is nothing more important to mothers than their kids. Every mother will have a different journey and every woman will have different symptoms. I’d like to encourage women that they are not damaged or different, that they are not failures as moms or wives. Guilt can be a very damaging aspect of PPD. So go out and talk to your husband or friends,family or doctor, anyone but express your feeling and let it all out. Have faith that you are not alone and there is help just round the corner. All you have to do is reach for it.

Whatever your parents have, will ultimately be yours!

“Hi Kanchan, how are you?”

“Hi Vikas, I am fine. What happened? You called so late!”

“Yes Kanchan, I don’t know how to say this, but I think, we will have to cancel our booking for that flat.”

“Oh, why? what happened? Wasn’t the broker suppose to get the paperwork done before our wedding? And now with just a week to go, what is the issue?”

“Even I don’t know. That broker just called and said, we need to give the remaining 20 lakhs within a week, or else the booking will be cancelled and we will loose our token money too.”

“Oh, but how can he do that now? With the wedding preparations and all, already we have a lot on our heads. How are we going to arrange 20 lakhs now?”

“That is what I was thinking. May be I should cancel the booking. Yes 10 lakh token money will be gone, but it’s impossible to arrange 20 lakhs in less than a week. I will call him first thing in the morning and cancel the flat. It’s just that, I did not wanted you to suffocate in our small flat, with a joint family, so I booked that flat, to give you a comfortable life. But I guess, we will have to let it go and look for another one in a few years.”

“Vikas, 10 lakhs is a big amount. Can’t the broker refund it?”

“No, I asked him and he refused.”

“Vikas, wait for sometime. Let me call you back.”

“Vikas, I just spoke to Dad. He is ready to give 20 lakhs. He said, he wanted to give a nice gift for the wedding anyways and was thinking of buying a car. But a house sounds even better and he said he will pay for it. He wanted to give the entire 30 lakhs, but I refused and told him to give 20 lakhs only.”

“No Kanchan, I can’t accept the money from you. I wanted to buy the flat for us, with my own money and I would have easily paid the installments, but this broker messed the whole thing. No! I better cancel the flat. How can I take money from your father?”

“It is OK Vikas, remember, your parents are my parents and my parents are your parents. And what shame in taking help from parents? Dad is happy to help. Let him.”

“Ok Kanchan, I don’t want to, but if you are pushing so much, then I will let him help, but I will return the money soon.”

“Ok baba, whatever you want to.”

“I love you, Kanchan.”

“I love you too,Vikas.”


“Vikas, Can we buy a small car for me? It takes more than 2 hours to reach office by bus. If I have my own car, I can drive to office and reach in less than an hour.”

“Ok, I will think about it Kanchan.”

“Kanchan, I have a better idea, Why don’t you bring over your old car from your house, that you used to drive before you got married? You can bring that car here and use it, meanwhile, I will book another, new one for you. This way you won’t have to wait for a new car.”

“Yes, I can, but Mom drives it now.”

“Oho, Mom use it to go to kitty parties and buy vegetables. She can always book a cab. She doesn’t use that car much. It mostly stands covered in the parking. Moreover just talk to your Mom and see what she thinks about it? I am sure, if she know, that you need that car, they will not say no to you.”

“Yes, they will not say no, but it doesn’t feel right to keep asking them for something or the other. We still haven’t returned the money we took for this apartment.”

“That is because you said your father wanted to gift you a flat and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, or else, I would have returned the money long back.”

“Yes, but you only said you will return……”

Vikas was angry by now “Kanchan, I gave you option to live in our old house, with the family but you chose to live seperately in an apartment. It was your choice and you asked your father for the money. I did not force you to take money from your parents and now you are making me feel as if I made you take money from your family. Plus you are the only daughter and your parents have many properties and so much money. What else will they do with it? Who else will they give it? Whatever is theirs, finally you will get it. So what is the big deal about it?”

Kanchan felt those words cutting through her heart like a dagger. It was not the first time that Vikas said all this. It has been two years to their wedding and she heard all this quite often and she always kept quite because somehow, Vikas made it all seem right. Plus she also didn’t want to fight with Vikas over all these lame issues. After all he was right. Her parents were rich and buying her a flat or that diamond set that she liked and Vikas sent the pictures to her mother, without telling her and her mother transferred the money to Vikas’s account and Vikas bought that set for her on their first anniversary. She came to know about it much later that Vikas took the money from her mother and promised to return it but never did.

Or that trip to London. When Vikas was going to London for some office project for 10 days and Kanchan wanted to go too. What will she do here alone anyways and they were newly married and wanted to spend time with each other and her father booked Kanchan’s ticket because Vikas couldn’t afford a return ticket on such short notice, but he wanted Kanchan to go with her, so he told her father and he happily booked the tickets and transferred money in his account for shopping too.

Or that new furniture or fridge or down payment for a property in Delhi. Vikas always took money from her parents on a promise to return, but he never did and her parents never asked for the money because they wanted Kanchan to be happy.

But money can’t buy happiness. She looked around her house. Ninety percent of things in this house were given to her by her parents. She was not sure how long this will go on and she hated to take money from her parents. She was always an independant girl who made her own money, from a very young age and never took help from her parents. Her parents always taught her to be financially independant and have self respect.

When she met Vikas at an office event, she thought he was a man with values and strong convincing power, that is the reason he won all the awards in the Marketing and Sales department every year. He was a man of words. The way he presented himself, Kanchan was impressed and fell in his trap.

Vikas knew she was from a rich family, while Vikas’s father was a clerk in the Income Tax department. He lived with a joint family, in a small government quarter, all his life and Kanchan’s big house and even bigger car, her carefree attitude, her lifestyle, her beauty and dressing sense, everything about her impressed him and he managed her to fall in love with him and finally marry him. He knew his life was going to change and it did.

First he bought the house and then he furnished the entire house in the most luxurious way. Then he bought a big car and many foreign trips in just two years of marriage. He loved Kanchan very much. She was a very nice girl who respected his family and took genuine care of his parents. But all this was secondary to him. He was always ambitious and he felt suffocated in the house he lived all his life. His dreams were big and he wanted to achieve much more and Kanchan was the key to all his dreams. He always kept her happy and pampered.

Kanchan understood now but she felt helpless. She touched her grown belly. It was just two more months and the baby will come. She wondered how much her parents still have to pay after the baby comes. A tear ran down her cheeks and fell on her belly. She knew what she had to do. She went inside the room and started to pack her bag. She didn’t want her baby to be like father.

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Love n hugs.

Let kids be kids

We all love our kids… don’t we? No matter how they are. They can be a pain in the neck through the day, but we love them with all our heart. We keep trying to give them good values, telling them to do the right thing, teaching them virtues of life. But at times we step a little further and start expecting more from them. Times like when we mothers gather in a party or at the park or bus stop to pick and drop our kids, we discuss about a certain test or a competition or a sports trial, and that’s the time we see how well the other kid is doing, while our kid tried but failed. Our heart aches more at the success of the other kid than the failure of ours. And then begins the race of making our child better than everyone and in this pretence we overburden our kids and take away their fun of childhood.

We have grown up listening to the stories of Mr Sharma’s bright son and Mr Mehta’s studious daughter, and we hated those lecture sessions, when our parents told us how rotten we are, and how we will land up doing nothing in life. But trust me you guys, I have seen Mr Sharma’s bright son struggling to find a decent job for himself while I was doing much better. Mr Mehta’s studious daughter could not get admission in a college, even though her marks were good, while I cleared because I had decent marks along with sports certificates.

So we can not judge how the kids will do in future just looking at the marks they are scoring right now. They might not do so well right now, but may be in future they do well ,or may be they are doing well right now, but in future they don’t. So the best way is to let them be. As parents, all we need to do is pay attention towards them and help them with their studies as much as possible but don’t put pressure on them to perform because then they will wilt from the inside and soon lose interest. Let them have fun while they still can. Let them live their childhood because it is not going to come back again. Let them find their interest, be it studies or sports or music or dancing or painting..anything. Every child is different and unique in its own way. Some are born with a talent while some find it over time, so let them get there, just be with them, support them and raise a happy child not an overburdened, stressed, unhappy child. Don’t take-away their innocence from them. These days, while they are still hovering around you, with their mud stained hands and feet, dirty clothes and wide smiles are not going to come back. Enjoy these days with them. Let them be mischievous. Let them play in the rain. Let them hide their chapatis behind their almirah. Let them be jolly. You are surely never going to regret your decision of letting them be. Stop competing with fellow moms, and try to look and appreciate the qualities in your children and never..never compare your little one with other children of their age.

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Happy reading!!

Shubnita Singh

That middle class girl

You know you’re a mom when

You know you’re a mom when: You’re singing rhymes in bathroom.
In your handbag, make up is replaced by babywipes, pacifiers, milkpowder, caps, mittens, diapers etc.
Your heels are replaced by sneakers and flats.
Your beautiful sequinned dresses are replaced by sweatshirts and yoga pants.
Your expensive cosmetics are replaced by baby products.
Your refrigerator is full of baby food.
Wine bottles are replaced by juice cans.
Spicy and tangy food is replaced by whatever your baby eats (mostly bland food…less spicy, less sweet, less salt).

You literally live on Pizza.

When you go shopping, you visit kids section first and probably come back from there having spent most of your money.

Your house is full of baby furniture, baby walkers, baby strollers, baby by cycles etc.

You can’t remember how beautiful and clean your house looked before you had kids.

Half of your bedroom is turned into baby nursery.

Most of the bed is occupied by baby, baby toys, stuffed toys, baby books etc.

Your bed sidetable looks like a medical store counter.

Doctors (paediatrics) recognise you by your children.

You’ve started to drink water from baby sipper and eat all the left over in your baby plate.

You have spent numerous sleepless nights cramped in baby cot.

Sexy lingerie are replaced by Sports bra and comfy wear.

Your phone is full of baby rhymes and cartoon apps.

Movie dates and night outs are a thing of past.

Play dates and park time are your only outings and recreation.

Romantic chats are replaced by grocery list and potty discussion.

Your kid’s friend’s moms (fellow moms) are your only friends left.

And the list is endless, but I will stop here to say, no matter what, no matter all above is true to the ‘T’… we love our children and we may whine and sulk but we do everything and more for our kids without blinking an eye.