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JWB’s Curious Blogger Visits Rajasthan’s First Human Milk Bank

  • IWB Post
  •  August 1, 2015


Just yesterday, we talked about various stores in WTP and City Pulse Malls, which said a big yes to nursing mothers welcoming them to breastfeed in their trial rooms- this is a list that you shouldn’t miss!

But, one thing that I noticed during my visit to these malls was that a lot of people, including women, are pretty shy at the very mention of the word breastfeeding. Why shy people? It is a boon that comes with motherhood; being able to nurture a child with your milk, doesn’t that make you ladies equivalent to a superhero?

So, it wasn’t really a surprise to see their wide-eyed clueless expression when I discussed with them the term: Human Milk Bank. It sounds quite curious right? It did to me too. I mean, everyone’s heard of a blood bank, but what do you mean by a Human Milk Bank?

Bearing these thoughts in mind and feeling a bit anxious, I walked into Rajya Mahila Chikitsalya, which is the home to India’s second and Rajasthan’s first ever Human Milk Bank: “Jeevandhara”! I think the atmosphere of hospitals has a way of inducing that sensation in any person. Our photographer and I went straight up to the “Jeevandhara” wing and believe me when I say; all my anxiety vanished in a puff of dust when I met the counselor, Rajbala.

A warm and compassionate person by nature, Rajbala is one of the three counselors who work in the Jeevandhara wing headed by Dr. Sheela Sharma– the pioneering woman we chatted with sometime back about the initiation and functioning of Jeevandhara.  Rajbala asked the photographer to sit in the office, while she took me to the room where women donate breast milk.

This meant that the writer was to do the job of the photographer. Well, learning new things is never harmful!

Getting back to the point, Rajbala took me to that room and I saw two women with equipment attached to their breasts which pumped out the milk in a bottle. “We ask the mothers to wash their hands with soap, and then we ask them to wash their breasts with RO water which we specially keep filled in a bottle here for this purpose,” she told me while pointing towards the wash basin in the room.

She continued, “We are three counselors, one of us is actually a lab-technician. But we rotate and learn each others’ job; so that, if any day someone is not present, the work doesn’t suffer. We also clean and maintain the room on our own. This happens between 9 to 10 a.m. before the women come to donate.”

Seeing the breast-milk pump gave me bit of an eerie feeling so I chatted with the two women if it was painful. Of course that’s the first question that would pop up in your head when you talk about donating breast milk!

One of them replied, “Isse dard nahi hota, ye na karien toh takleef hoti hai!” Rajbala explained to me that a lot of women witness tightening and cramps in the breast due to the production of excess milk. In the severe case, this can also necessitate the need for surgery.

Which women donate milk here usually? I asked her.

She replied, “The ones who have excess milk. The ones whose kids are not well and in the nursery, due to which the mother is unable to feed them directly; and the ones who simply wish to donate.”

And how is it used?

“Once the milk is pasteurized and processed, it is sent to the nursery for infants who are not well. We also give the first feed to infants of the mothers who face difficulty in feeding the child, or if the mother is unconscious after delivery.”

I felt so moved seeing everything around me, and instantly felt so glad and proud to be a part of this campaign. Meeting the mothers there, the team at Jeevandhara, the tiny infants, was an unmatched experience which cannot be aptly described in words.

Stay tuned to know what happened next, for these empowering stories of mothers who donated their milk to save lives of infants, will move and inspire you to do the same.

Picture Courtesy: Shashank K Tyagi

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