Alas! There's room to smoke, but no room to breastfeed

New Delhi [India], Mar. 4 (ANI): Breastfeeding in public places is a problematic issue women face on a regular basis.

Irony is, at workplaces, malls, hospitals, airports you will see a special place is allocated for smoking, but to breastfeed the kid, a woman just has the option of washroom.

A recent Breastfeeding Report - 'Choices and Spaces' by SHEROES supported by Medela and powered by Babygogo, aimed to understand the comfort levels of mothers, breastfeeding in public and at work in India.

It also focuses on the problems that prevent women to breastfeed and what could be offered to create that support eco-system.

It highlights that women are changing their normal behaviour, post delivery, to accommodate breastfeeding- some limit going out in public and many quit job to raise their babies.

Only 20 percent of the respondents indicated their workplaces had safe and comfortable places to breastfeed.

Over 3500 women participated in the breastfeeding survey from across sectors. 66.7 percent new moms stated they were uncomfortable with breastfeeding their babies in public spaces, while 49 percent women felt uncomfortable while feeding babies at workplaces. Most were from India, with a few respondents from the UAE and Singapore.

Out of these respondents, a majority of them were working women from the corporate sector and the rest were staying at home moms.

Annually, about 26 million babies take birth in India. According to National Family Health Survey -3 (NFHS-3) data, 20 million are not able to receive exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and about 13 million do not get good timely and appropriate complementary feeding after six months, along with continued breastfeeding.

• Home: Most comfortable space

More than 67 percent of women responded that they felt comfortable breastfeeding in front of family members. However, a significant number of almost 30 percent women do not feel comfortable even in the familiarity of family members.

•Breastfeeding in public

Most women are comfortable breastfeeding in front of family members and have no issues being supported in this way, although a few did mention that family helps to perpetuate myths about bottle feeding being better and scaring them that they are not producing enough milk.

One respondent stated, "I really face so many problems outside the home because I don't find any place to feed him and my in laws said it's good to give bottle feed to your child because may be he doesn't get the enough feed from me."

• Public attitude towards breastfeeding

Most respondents felt uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. They mainly cited staring and rude comments as the primary reasons to avoid breastfeeding in public. (ANI)