Anandiben, Shaming Women For Not Breastfeeding is Deplorable

Dear Anandiben, here’s data to prove you are wrong about urban women and breastfeeding.

3 min read
Hindi Female

Another day, another gem on women and their bodies by our politicians. Current Madhya Pradesh Governor and former Gujarat CM, Anandiben Patel said that women in cities don’t believe in breastfeeding their babies in fear of losing their figure.

Addressing women at an Anganwadi centre in Indore, she said:

Even today, women in cities believe that breastfeeding will spoil their figure, which is why they do not breastfeed their children. They start bottle feeding their children.
Anandiben Patel

She didn’t stop there with her shaming. No. She went ahead and added that these bottle-fed children will grow up only to have their future shattered.

If the children are bottle-fed, then their fate will also be shattered the way a bottle does.

No Ma’am, You Are Wrong

About so many things. First, breastfeeding has actually seen a significant rise, leading to a decline in infant mortality rate from 78.5 in 1992-93 to 57 in 2005-06 and 41 in 2015-16 according to National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4) data, quoted in this IndiaSpend report.

According to the same report, there has been a 32.1 percentage point increase in early breastfeeding.

There’s more from the latest NFHS-4 Data that you can use in your future speeches.

  • 42.8 percent children in urban areas were breastfed within the first one hour and 41. percent in rural areas.
  • 52.1 percent children under age of 6 months were exclusively breastfed in urban areas and 56 percent in rural areas.

So basically, the number of women breastfeeding has increased over the years and the numbers in urban and rural areas is almost the same.

What’s With the Shaming of Urban Women?

No one is denying the benefits of breastfeeding. Exclusive and continued breastfeeding along with safe, complimentary feeding post six months is essential for a child’s cognitive and behavioural growth according to UNICEF.

But to suggest urban women will not breastfeed to maintain their figures is insulting to millions of mothers who manage both home and work in urban settings.

Have you asked how many companies, how many work spaces offer feeding rooms for mothers? Have you checked how many public places have feeding rooms?

Ma’am, as someone in a position of power you should be helping create safe spaces for women to take care of their children while working, instead of making horrific comments on the future of bottle-fed children.

Dear Anandiben, here’s data to prove you are wrong about urban women and breastfeeding.
Doctors say that breastfeeding is the best option for a baby if a mother can do it but working moms need to be supported to be able to do it.
(Photo: iStock)

Then there are those who cannot lactate. That’s right. Physical causes of low milk supply include thyroid disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome, insulin resistance, hormonal disorders among others.

These women face increasing pressure to breastfeed. They try endlessly. The pressure to be natural often leads to these babies not getting enough nutrition and leading to malnutrition. Which comes with its own list of problems. All of which could be addressed by adding a top feed.

Then there are babies who cannot latch on. Pumping and top feed becomes the only option for them.

But those who shame these women don’t see that.

Ma’am, rise above such cliches. Use your station to help improve nutrition and care of pregnant women and infants. Use your power to educate, not shame. Certainly don’t use your position to tell women who can’t breastfeed, they’ve failed their children.

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