Adhunika Prakash’s Journey To Break Taboos Around Breastfeeding
From crying through nights to creating the no. 1 Facebook community, read Adhunika Prakash’s journey of shattering myths around breastfeeding.
Adhunika Prakash is the founder of the community and author of Breast Potion. While living in Ireland, she struggled with sleep deprivation, managing household chores and feeding her child. She joined a community of mothers that talked in length on the subject of breastfeeding. From there, she brought this idea to India and has so far connected with hundreds of thousands of women.
‘I used to cry in the night while struggling with breastfeeding. I did not see anyone talking about the topic, how difficult it is for women and its importance for the mother and the baby,” said Adhunika Prakash while sharing her journey of starting a community of Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mother (BSIM) about nine years back.
Impact On Thousands Of Lives
On an Instagram Live session with HerZindagi, Adhunika Prakash shared that the BSIM Facebook page has connected with roughly about 1.45 lakhs of women and impacted at least 3 lakhs lives.
About three years back, the Facebook Leadership Community Programmer selected it to be the number one community in the Asia-Pacific region. It also ranks among the top five community pages in the world.
They do not tell women to go to a corner, toilet or a designated room to feed their baby. “You can sit on a bench and breastfeed. We tell them to go to a garden, sabji ki mandi (vegetable market) and fish market, and feed the baby in the public space.”
The BSIM community helps the mother feel comfortable in breastfeeding the baby as well as choosing formula to keep up with the nourishment requirements of the child. They are good Samaritans who do it out of sheer goodness in their heart. None of the community members is paid to counsel or help a struggling mother.
Image Courtesy: Adhunika Prakash/Instagram
"A few years back," Adhunika shared, ‘A mother was asked to feed her baby in the toilet.” Angered by this blatant request from the staff, that woman shared a thread on social media where the mall representative had told her to do her ‘household chores’ at home.
This led Adhunika and the community to start #freedomtonurse. It was about normalising women feeding in the public space. They talked about why more women should come out and feed their babies in public, how people can support women and what can be done.
Their emphasis was on the breastfeeding rights of women to feed the baby in the public. She added, “New mothers, often in urban areas, struggle with finding a safe and clean space to feed their baby while in a mall or office. They cannot be running around to find a safe corner where they can do that with their child.”
For this movement, the community received the #WebWonderWomen award from the Ministry of Child and Development.
Adhunika says, “The biggest challenge is women feel less of themselves when they are not able to breastfeed the baby.” Our expert says that her Facebook community shares stories of all kinds of mothers who chose a different parenting style.
“We are not here to shame anyone. If a woman wants to breastfeed or not, it is her choice,” added Prakash. BSMI has filed a petition asking government offices to have a designated space where women can express milk and later feed it to their kids.
The Facebook page also shares various stories of mothers who talk about their struggles and how they overcame them. This has helped many women feel that they are not alone in their journey. It tells that women around India have been facing almost similar problems.
Misconceptions Around Breastfeeding
Image Courtesy: Adhunika Prakash/Instagram
We asked Adhunika Prakash about the common misconceptions that society has regarding breastfeeding. She said, “The most common is if the child is crying, the baby is hungry. A child can be crying because of numerous other reasons.”
Other misconceptions are related to the size of the breasts. She shared that people correlated the size of breasts with the amount of milk produced. If the breasts are small or did not enlarge during pregnancy, the woman will not be able to produce enough milk.
The BSMI community shatters these misconceptions and myths around breastfeeding every day. They bring lactation experts and paediatricians on board and conduct webinars to educate women. Struggling new mothers can directly connect with the community through their social media pages and website.