Did you know that the lives of almost 8,23,000 children and 20,000 mothers could be saved annually by breastfeeding?
Asks Chicago-based Aishwarya Rajan Babu, founder of The Mommy Series, an online group, which has over 4k members from over 40 countries. To commemorate and celebrate the breastfeeding week (August 1-7), Aishwarya launched a rather interesting campaign where 9 photographers from across India photographed mothers breastfeeding at various locations like shops, in public or at homes.
A mother who opts to feed her little one in public is frowned upon or gawked at, even if she is fully covered. And this is why Aishwarya began the Breastfeeding Awareness Movement.
A mother to a 4-year-old, Aishwarya says that the one thing that she seeks forgiveness for, from her daughter, is the fact that she could not breastfeed her as much as she should have due to some post-delivery complications.
“While I cannot do much now, in initiating this campaign I wish to help other mothers who might be in a similar position as I once was.”
Using photography seemed a powerful medium to make a point and thus Aishwarya embarked on this campaign.
While it is recommended that a baby only be exclusively breastfed for upto 6 months of age, you can consider this organic baby porridge after that period. You can buy the same here.
The response has been overwhelming with mothers showing their support with placards from various significant locations such as the Mysore Palace in India, Burj Kalifa in Dubai, New York Downtown in US, Norway Airport and more from across all continents.
Aishwarya says, “Even the dads were thrilled and took the mommy’s to these special spots to show their pride in supporting this beautiful cause.”
To bring things into the right perspective, these statistics will help you understand the importance of breastfeeding, both for the mother and baby.
- India ranks 56th amongst 76 countries surveyed in the early initiation of breastfeeding.
- Only 41.6 per cent of babies are breastfed within an hour of being born (early initiation)
- 99,499 children die each year as a result of diarrhea or pneumonia that could have been prevented by early breastfeeding.
- The high level of child mortality and the growing number of deaths in women from cancer and type II diabetes is attributable to inadequate breastfeeding.
Neha Basu, Ravina Sodhi, Aishwarya Rajan Babu, Vinodhini Saravana Babu, Dia John, Preethi Sriram, Nikita Yogi, Rhucha Kulkarni, and Shuba Krishnan were the nine photographers who have been part of this campaign.
We, at The Better India, spoke to three of the photographers. Ravina Sodhi, children and family photographer based in Gurgaon, says, “Urbanisation comes with its own challenges, the most obvious and significant being the part where we keep moving away from what is natural.
“Despite the awareness around the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child, demands of modern urban life and societal perceptions create a lot of practical hurdles in mother’s and babies spending quality time together.”
Rural areas have no such issues and mothers openly breastfeed their babies for extended periods, since they know it’s the best and the easiest way for a baby to get nourishment.
“Back to Basics” is the new mantra being spoken of in many spheres of urban living and it applies to this as well. It is important to drive education and awareness around breast-feeding and photographs and social media is a very effective way of spreading this message across the globe.
Shuba Krishnan, a Hyderabad-based photographer for babies and families, says, “The sheer need to educate new mothers and help them breastfeed is why I decided to be a part of this campaign.”
“This is something that I tell all my clients as well – Breastfeeding is a mind-game and you need to take control of it.”
“I made it a point to flaunt my under eye circles and my tired face to show all new mothers and to-be mothers that they are not alone in this journey. I want to remind them that they are doing the best for their child,” says Shuba.
Dia John, a photo-artist from Aluva, Kerala says, “First of all when I was asked if I could represent from Kerala for this awareness I was totally excited about the project. I’m not a mom yet but I’ve heard a lot from mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding and if it’s not done how it will affect the child’s health. Nowadays people are struggling in maintaining a work-life balance and for the time being, bottled milk is given as a convenient replacement to breast milk.
“I wish this project goes viral, only because of the immense good that it will do.”
Let’s pledge to make a difference, let’s support and make our public spaces conducive for new mothers to breastfeed their little ones without having to feel awkward or embarrassed.