Human Milk Bank’s Counselor Rajbala Instructs Us How To Breastfeed The Right Way
- IWB Post
- August 6, 2017
Happy International Breastfeeding Week, dear women!
While visiting Rajasthan’s first ever Human Milk Bank: ‘Jeevandhara,’ of course, it is only natural that a lot of whys and whats and wheres and whens popped-up in my head at each point of time there.
But luckily for me, Rajbala, one of the counselors at Jeevandhara, happily satiated all my inquisitions and guided me through. She even made me meet few of the women who visit the wing frequently to donate their breast milk. Read on the excerpts from our conversation:
Jeevandhara was instated in 2015. How do you spread awareness?
We go ward-to-ward for counseling the mothers. As part of the counseling, we tell them about Jeevandhara and ask them to come here if they face any difficulty in feeding the baby.
Tell me about these difficulties in breastfeeding.
Quite often, the mother is not able to feed the child due to tightening of her breasts. Sometimes there are also women whose nipples are naturally inwards. In such a case the baby is unable to suck the milk.
So how do you treat them at Jeevandhara?
- We give and teach them hand massage. Our prime motive at Jeevandhara is to help enable a mother feed her child directly, on her own.
- If the nipples are inwards, we use the breastmilk pumping machine to extract milk so that the nipples begin to bulge on the outside. Once this happens, we again try direct feeding. Now, the baby tries hard to suck and gradually the nipples develop outside.
- If a mother is unable to feed the baby because it is admitted in the nursery, she donates the milk here through the pump and then this milk is pooled and processed, finally reaching the baby.
- We also assist the mothers by teaching them the correct positions of holding the baby while breastfeeding.
The most important thing that we tell all of them is that whenever you feed your child, or donate milk, you should do it with a happy and positive mind. Your good thoughts go into the baby and it becomes healthier.
Speaking of feeding positions, please share few of them with us.
As you may see, in this room, we have posters all around on how to hold your baby correctly while feeding. When mothers come here to donate milk, we also show them these and ask them to follow. In the ward-to-ward counseling for c-section women, we tell them…
- First-day position: On the first day, usually, the mother isn’t able to move. So the baby should be flipped onto her with its mouth at her breast and her hand over the baby.
- Second-day position: The baby is made to lie on the mother’s side.
- Third-day position: The mother becomes able to sit up and feed the baby holding it in her arms.
That is some really useful piece of information. New mothers, take notes!
One question has been bothering me ever since I’ve stepped into this room. Aren’t women apprehensive about using a machine to pump milk?
You know, the patients who come to us with problems and when their discomfort is eased, we tell them to share their experience with others. This is because many people fret about using an equipment to pump out milk.
But most importantly, when a woman shares with others the happiness that she feels after donating, motivates others to be a part of this noble cause. The feeling that you have contributed towards saving a tiny infant’s life is incomparable!
What message do you personally convey to women who are experiencing motherhood for the first time?
I tell them the importance of mother’s milk for a baby. There are some women who give dairy milk to their child because they are figure conscious and think breastfeeding will make them fat. That is not the case! When you feed, you are also putting away the risk of developing breast cancer. Also, it saves your money that you would otherwise spend on dairy milk.
Another significant thing that we tell them is that the first milk, known as Colostrum, which is thick and yellow, is quintessential for the child for it builds a child’s immunity. Pehla doodh amrit ke samaan hai! Earlier, people used to consider it as impure, so we make them aware that it is just the opposite!
Share your personal experience of being a counselor here.
I have always been in touch with little kids. I was a pre-school teacher before I came here. And today, being around these tiny infants, guiding their mothers, gives me infinite happiness. Being able to breastfeed your baby, validates your motherhood in the truest sense. I have also come across women whose hearts ache with remorse because they are unable to themselves feed their new-born…
“…which is why we emphasize Jeevandhara as a Breastfeeding Management Centre than a Human Milk Bank,” Dr. Sheela Sharma, the head of Jeevandhara, joined in the conversation. She continued, “Data reveals that in our country there is no intervention to stress on the breastfeeding management concept. A lot of mothers are suffering from problems and it is important that their stress is alleviated.”
She also told us that in the absence of the breastfeeding management and human milk bank concept, the ill infants in the nurseries were fed dairy milk. Post the establishment of this wing, there has been a perceptible decline in the infant mortality rate owing to the nutritional power of breast milk which now reaches these kids.
I think of little babies and then I think of people like Rajbala, Dr. Sheela Sharma, who are devoting themselves to such a praiseworthy cause! Much kudos to them!
Picture Courtesy: Shashank K Tyagi
This article was first published on August 4, 2015.