Set up FEEDING ROOMS in public spaces

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“Excuse me where is the feeding room “, Savithri (name changed) asked the hotel staff and she replied; “Madam you can go to the ladies toilet. We do not have any such provision here”.

This happened at one of the quality restaurants in the heart of the capital city of Kerala which is actually nothing new for the female population.

A quick Google search on ‘feeding rooms in Kerala” yielded image results of hotel bedrooms instead! I finally stumbled upon just a single article by The Hindu on the feeding rooms set up in Payyoli bus stand in the city of Kozhikode. On further research I found that our neighboring state of Tamil Nadu in fact has a greater number of feeding rooms available for the public than all the feeding rooms of our airports and exclusive private hospitals of Kerala. Not to leave out parts of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, few railway stations, a handful of temples like the Siddhi Vinayak temple, metropolitan malls and some clinics in Delhi.

Following this, a general survey was taken amongst both men and women. When asked if they needed a special facility for lactating mothers almost all of them replied saying they needed it as giving milk to the child was an ardently devoted process; they had to hunt for a secluded corner, keeping away from prying eyes or rush themselves into a dingy damp washroom where the child would then have their food near the toilet while the mother helplessly stands the stench for another 10 minutes. In a world that over sexualizes woman’s breast and considers breastfeeding in public an inappropriate act, feeding a child can turn into an ordeal.

As a result of this elaborate process of feeding, 62% of mothers often discontinue breastfeeding even before the mandatory 6 month breastfeeding period stipulated by the World Health Organization (WHO) .Later they resort to feeding formula milk or introducing them to cow’s milk that is unsuitable for the baby due to its high protein content that eventually leads to renal overload, malnutrition, decreased immunity and in some cases death like the recent death of twin babies in Andhra Pradesh. UNICEF also estimates that exclusive breastfeeding up to the age of six months could prevent the deaths of 1.3 million children under the age of five each year.

“SO, WHY DON’T WE HAVE FEEDING ROOMS FOR WOMEN IN KERALA??!!

This is not becoming of a state like Kerala that boasts of the highest human development index, literacy rate and sex ratio.

“AND WHAT ARE WE PLANNING TO DO?”

·        Submit a request to the Chief Minister of Kerala   Pinarayi Vijayan, Minister for Health and Social Justice K. K. Shylaja and District Collector K.Vasuki

·        The request will mandate the construction of baby care rooms in:

1.      Public spaces- 28 bus depots, 16 railway stations, restaurants, parks and beaches in the initial stage

2.      Public organizations like passport offices and banks

 This is a small step to a larger good in subsequently reducing malnutrition, early infant mortality rates and ultimately making way for a healthier population by encouraging breastfeeding by providing a hassle free environment for our mothers.

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