In the times of COVID-19, “Saand Ki Aankh” producer Nidhi Parmar Hiranandani has donated 42 litres of breast milk since May, in order to help new born babies.
In a country like India where usually there would a social stigma attached to donating breast milk, Nidhi took a rather unconventional step. She wrote on her Instagram,
“My home freezer kept filling up. And I had read on the internet that breast milk goes bad after three-four months in a home freezer. By then, I had about three packets of 150 ml each, waiting to be used.”Nidhi Parmar Hiranandani
When the new mother asked her friends and family for a solution, she got extremely silly ideas. Some suggested she should bathe her baby in milk, while others suggested donating it to a beauty salon.
Determined to make better use of breast milk, she kept looking for answers over the internet and by consulting experts. Finally, her gynaecologist recommended Surya Hospital in Khar, Mumbai, which has a breast milk bank for babies.
But the hurdles didn’t stop there.
As fate would have it, just when she was about to donate her milk to the bank, the country-wide lockdown was imposed. But with the help of the bank, Ms Hiranandani was finally able to donate through a zero-contact pick-up.
Hiranandani has been successful in donating around 42 litres of breast milk to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Surya Hospital since May 2020.
With a capacity of 65 beds, the hospital often encounters preemies and babies who are underweight in their NICU. Sometimes, mothers with pre-conditions and on medication and unable to breastfeed their new-born. Breast milk can be immensely resourceful for them.
“I went to the hospital very recently to finally see how my donation is being used, and I saw around 60 babies who really needed milk.”Nidhi Parmar Hiranandani
“I then decided that I will keep donating at least for a year.” she added.
Donated human milk, doctors say, is the best alternative for babies whose mothers can’t make milk or have medical conditions that make breastfeeding impossible. Yet, because of the taboo that surrounds it, not much awareness is spread about this.