Talking about real-life heroes, a support group by the name of Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers (BSIM) is doing its bit to promote the practice of breastfeeding in India. Founded by Adhunika Prakash, in June 2013 it is trying to make public breastfeeding a ‘normal’ and ‘accepted’ practice. In a country where ironically, pissing and spitting in public is a perfectly accepted norm, breastfeeding is still considered a taboo.
In India where 44% of children under the age of 5 are underweight and 72% of infants and 52%of married women have anaemia, breastfeeding is a much needed practice. Research has proven that Breast milk contains antibodies and lowers the risk of asthma or allergies in newborns. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea.
According to the breastfeeding activists and experts, convincing mothers and families on breastfeeding within an hour of birth is a herculean task because there are regressive myths attached to childbirths in India, with local customs superseding science and logic. From honey, to holy-water and what not, people are rarely ready to open themselves towards this healthy practice. It’s not only the rural but the urban population too follows such regressive customs and being educated or not does not matter. Only 12 percent women in Delhi, the national capital exclusively breastfeed their children for the first 6 month that is a little bit above to average 9.4% in Haryana.
This peer support group which saw its inception in 2013 was founded with the intention of empowering women with information in Pune, but later expanded its base and targeted wider audience. The founder Adhunika Prakash, is now a certified Lactation Educator and Counsellor. The Facebook Support group that has about 20,000 members is where members, peer counsellors (PCs) and admins help mothers with breastfeeding queries 24X7 for no monetary benefit at all. As the world is witnessing a surge in campaigns and movements to promote breastfeeding, India too has its share of people who are doing their best to support a healthy practice.