Dia, whose child, Avyaan was born on May 14 has via an emergency C-section, in recent months took to social media to talk about how motherhood has changed her. While she maintains that becoming a mother has changed the way she looks at things, she does not find enough acceptance for something as trivial as public breastfeeding in the country.
Speaking to a media agency in light of World Breastfeeding Week, Mirza, who got hitched to partner Vaibhav Rekhi some months back said that there’s little safety for mothers to safely breastfeed in public, who are also met with a lot of shame and judgement. In fact, surveys have showcased that the only 6% of women in India feel comfortable, or accepted public breastfeeding, proving that there’s still a big taboo around the same:
“I have become more acutely aware of the lack of safe spaces for new mothers, especially if they are socially and economically marginalised. Why have we never [highlighted] how hard it is for underserved mothers to feed their babies on construction sites, farms and roadside stalls without any privacy?”
The 39-year-old also highlighted that in a country like ours, where there’s still a high infantile mortality and malnourishment rate, there needs to be put in place a systematic shift and wide normalization to breastfeeding:
“In Belgium, breastfeeding in public is protected by law, but in India, we need to bring about a systematic shift in societal attitude. Feeding a child should be considered a natural act, but it triggers so much shame and judgment when done in public.”
Dia also quipped that the judgement and trivialisation around breastfeeding, which is the most natural act should stop and there’s no need to associate feeding a child publically with any kind of shame or mean comments.
Apart from Dia, several other actresses have talked about the need to normalize awareness around breastfeeding in the country. From actress Neha Dhupia, who is now expecting her second child, Amrita Rao to television actress and new mother, Ekta Kaul, Bollywood’s young mom brigade have used social media platforms to talk about the same.
A number of celebrities and influencers, including fashion expert, Diipa Khosla, who made a statement by modelling a designer outfit with a breast pump are doing their bit to normalize breastfeeding.
What can be done to normalize breastfeeding in India?
Breastfeeding is the most important form of nourishment for a child in the first year of his or her birth and protects them from many illness risks as well. For the mothers too, it helps fuel a bond. While it is the most natural act, in honour of Breastfeeding week, here are some ways we can normalize and cut the stigma around the same, marking spaces safer for new mothers:
-Providing women with proper nursing breaks and space in workplaces
-Raising awareness on the importance of breastfeeding during the first 6 months
-Providing proper prenatal counselling for expecting mothers
-Support from family and adequate sensitization