Taj Mahal will soon have a breastfeeding room, making it the first heritage monument in India to provide the facility. The breastfeeding room will reportedly be set up by July for “millions of mothers who visit with their babies,” according to Dr Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, Superintending archeologist, Archeological Survey of India.
No doubt, a breastfeeding room at a tourist place like Taj Mahal–thronged by tourists all the time–can be deemed a positive step in the times when mothers in India still battle uncomfortable gaze while breastfeeding in public or are deprived of basic provisions for safety and hygiene for the same.
Express Parenting spoke to some mothers who are breastfeeding to know their reactions to this new development. And this is what they said:
“Having a breastfeeding room in a place like this is a huge step towards being more supportive to breastfeeding mothers. But I would also say that it does not mean breastfeeding should be restricted to that particular room only. Breastfeeding in public should be normalised and there should not be a problem if the mother does not want to use the room and is comfortable feeding in public or in case the room is full or is not at an accessible distance. But for mothers who are not comfortable feeding in public, this is a great initiative. Again, there are a lot of mothers who have to pump milk for health reasons. For instance, when I went back to office after my maternity leave, I did not have a place to pump milk that my baby would drink while I was at work. I had to go to a nearby mall and pump in the trial room. Pumping is something no one does in public. So, for them, having a room designated for the purpose will really be helpful. That way, they do not have to pump in the toilet or any other place.”
“The only place where I have seen a proper breastfeeding room till now is the hospital we take our baby to. We were once at a five-star hotel where I had to end up feeding my baby in the washroom. I am not ashamed of feeding my child in public. But at sites which are visited by thousands of people, certain provisions are essential. You hardly see a breastfeeding room even in big restaurants or malls. And India is a country where breastfeeding is actually encouraged. So, of course, Taj Mahal should have a breastfeeding room. This is something as basic as having sanitary pads in public washrooms.”
“Having a nursing room at the Taj Mahal is a good move for those mothers who prefer some privacy when breastfeeding, or until they’re ready to start nursing in public. Hope is that women aren’t expected to feed only at these designated spots once they’re comfortable nursing in public. Mothers are sometimes told to move to breastfeeding rooms even when they’re confident about breastfeeding in public. There are times when these breastfeeding rooms are not well-maintained or already occupied when you need it. We need to see breastfeeding women out and about, breastfeeding however and whenever they feel comfortable–leading a normal life.”
These mothers agreed that just reserving a room for breastfeeding is not enough, unless it is well-equipped for the purpose. That means, the breastfeeding rooms should have proper facilities to ensure mothers are able to feed their babies comfortably. Here are some basic requirements in a breastfeeding room, as mentioned by the mothers:
1. A comfortable seat–cushioned chair or couch–for the mother to be seated while nursing.
2. Breastfeeding rooms in public areas should be air-conditioned to ensure comfort.
3. A few pillows can be helpful because the correct position to feed the child is by lifting him or her up on your arms and keeping a pillow on your lap.
4. The room should not be a closed space; it should be properly ventilated and there should be enough light.
5. Drinking water.
6. Most importantly, the room should be clean and hygienic.
7. Mothers would prefer a colourful room to a dull room, because if the mother is happy, the feeding is better.