World Breastfeeding week for us at Apnalaya was from 1st -7th August launched through a series of events and workshops lined up in the community highlighting the significance of Maternal and Child health.
The theme for this Breastfeeding Week was “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding”. The driving force behind the theme was Inclusion – focused on empowering both the parents i.e father and mother to achieve better breastfeeding practices.
As breastfeeding is perceived to be the mother’s domain, fathers and other family members often remain oblivious to their role in the process. Through this breastfeeding week, our health workers worked to garner support of our mothers enabling good breastfeeding practices within families.
To spread the message of `inclusion’ during this week, it was celebrated with all the volunteer groups. The first session took off with a bang in all 12 clusters with Mother Support Group leaders on the topic “Good nutrition of Lactating Mothers, enables improved breastfeeding”.
Second, to involve all the members of the community, men, women, and elderly, Apnalaya’s health staff organized a `quiz competition’ that was facilitated by our adolescent leaders with the help of health workers. People in the community were happy to be a part of this event; many even said that such events should happen more often as they are very effective to spread awareness.
Sessions with pregnant women involved a cooking demonstration by our Mother Support Group (MSG) leaders who also facilitate our Supplementary Feeding Programme (SFP) sessions.
Apnalaya held a session with lactating mothers. As this period is vulnerable for both mother and child, and this vulnerability is heightened by a lack of awareness on breastfeeding practices, our team decided to hold sessions with this group. To include government stakeholders, these sessions took place in the Anganwadi centres with the help of ICDS workers and sevikas.
Apnalaya Health workers conducted sessions with 249 adolescent girls on the importance of breastfeeding. They commenced each session by introducing breastfeeding week and the meaning of “Empower parents, enable breastfeeding”. Many adolescent girls were hesitant and shy to attend the session; some were asking the health workers about their role in spreading awareness on this topic. Health workers explained that the role of our volunteers was to spread awareness in the community, within their families and friend circles, clarify myths revolving around the practice of breastfeeding and bring a positive change in the health-seeking behaviour of the community.
The community’s response to the breastfeeding week was overwhelming, people enjoyed learning new things, adolescents were thrilled to be facilitating the quiz competition and mothers understood that the onus of caring for herself and her child was just not on her.