This New Year’s Eve, a church in Kochi allocated a breastfeeding room for lactating mothers, keeping in mind the discomfort women go through when they have to scout for places to feed their babies. Some organisations in India offer a breastfeeding room in their office or a creche, but to a large extent, mothers face a bad time when they have to feed their babies in public. Mothers have to think twice because of people’s objections, comments or harassment.
Normalising breastfeeding has been a topic of discussion across the world. With campaigns, short films and blogs being written about it, mothers across the world are celebrating breastfeeding like never before and are striving to create places where breastfeeding is normal.
Amongst this, last month breastfeeding became the trending topic on social media when mothers started posting pictures of them feeding their babies. The pictures tagged as #brelfie and #treeoflife showed a tree and its roots connecting the mother and the child.
The Tree of life brelfie became a trend overnight. When Cassandra wanted to celebrate her 12-month anniversary of breastfeeding her daughter, she took a picture on her mobile phone of herself feeding her daughter. She had a vague idea of what she wanted to do and had plans to do it professionally, but before she wanted to try it out on her phone.
“I looked into photo editing apps that were like Photoshop so I could draft my idea and found the PicsArt app. I was able to add a flower to the photo, but didn’t really like the way it looked. That is when I decided to try a tree instead. It gave it a kind of artsy look through the app’s many filters they offer and I just fell in love with it. I had originally intended to take a professional photo with my camera and do this all on the computer, but I really loved what I had created,” she said in an interview with normalizebreastfeeding.org.
Unsure of sharing it on social media, she shared it with a breastfeeding support community and the response was amazing. She received so many requests to make the same edit for them as well. Cassandra in the interview tells that she stayed up till 5 am editing pictures and the next morning, the pictures were a thing. “I woke up to these photos everywhere! I saw them in all the mommy groups, they were being shared by blogs, and my Facebook messages were just flooded with people messaging me thanking me and forwarding blog articles,” she told normalizebreastfeeding.org.
Monica Vivek, who stays in Chennai says that she has a tough time when she goes out with her 7-months-old son. She said, “I didn’t expect a beautiful thing like breastfeeding can be looked upon by the society. I have had such bad experiences of nursing in public that I can’t even talk about it. There is an urgent need to normalize breastfeeding in India.”
Neha Sareen, who just had her second baby said, “When I was pregnant with my first baby, I was looking for videos to understand breastfeeding, and all I came across was porn videos or hidden camera videos. In a country like India, I don’t expect breastfeeding can ever be normalised.”
Cassandra believes in naturalising the process of breastfeeding instead of normalising it, as it would mean breastfeeding was not normal earlier.
She stated, “So did I expect it to go viral? Nope. am I glad it did? Absolutely! Because this week, breastfeeding had a little less of a stigma. And if we as society can just embrace breastfeeding for what it is, a natural way to feed our children, and stop bullying moms for how they have decided to feed their children, the world would be a much better place.”
Everywhere else, society is slowly opening up to breastfeeding and mothers are gaining the courage to breastfeed their babies in public but in the urban India, it still remains a stigma. According to an ASSOCHAM’s study, 40% of women drop out of work stating various reasons and one of the major reason is to take care of their babies.
It is time we all accepted breastfeeding as natural as a process it is.
Feature Image Credits: ego-alterego