Lactating mothers no longer need to feel helpless listening to the cries of their hungry babies in public, at least at major bus stations in Bengaluru.
Thanks to the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation’s (BMTC) plan to launch women’s lounges that aim to provide a separate space for lactating moms to feed their babies.
These lounges will also be equipped with waiting rooms, toilets and drinking water facilities.
To kickstart the project, BMTC officials have requested a budget of Rs 2.25 crore from the Centre under the Nirbhaya fund.
Speaking to the Times of India, a senior BMTC official said “A dedicated room will ensure privacy for mothers breastfeeding their newborns. It will also benefit women staffers especially conductors. We have adequate space in traffic and transit management centres to set up the lounges by the end of this year.”
The concept is not new but is a one step ahead to encourage breastfeeding. Two years ago, the then Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa introduced breastfeeding rooms at bus stations. The move gained immense popularity and was widely appreciated by travelling lactating women who faced great difficulty and would be shamed while breastfeeding their newborns in public spaces. Over 40 bus stands set up breastfeeding rooms in the city of Chennai.
The move has been lauded by many activists working in the sector. Activists have welcomed the initiative.
Women’s rights activist, K S Vimala told the publication, “Many women passengers wait at terminuses for long hours, but there are no facilities at most places to help mothers breastfeed comfortably.”
She reiterated the need for breastfeeding rooms at railway stations, government and private offices too.
“There are dedicated smoking rooms in most offices, but there are no efforts to set up an adequate space for breastfeeding. The government should maintain the dedicated rooms and prevent their misuse by miscreants,” she said.
Emphasising the power of breastfeeding, UNICEF states it can save over 1.8 lakh under-five children from diarrhoea and pneumonia in India every year.
A report mentions, “Optimal breastfeeding of infants under two years of age has the greatest potential impact on child survival of all preventive interventions, with the potential to prevent over 800,000 deaths (13 per cent of all deaths) in children under five in the developing world (Lancet 2013). Breastfed children have at least six times greater chance of survival in the early months than non-breastfed children.”