"We talk about building a healthy nation, all the time. Breastfeeding is the foundation to it. When will we understand that?", says a real-life hero and a mother, whose powerful Instagram pictures have left social media in awe of her.
World Breastfeeding Week has started from today and we were already tired of reading articles and social media posts that glorify mothers virtually. Then, we came across an Instagram profile that shook us to the core and made us stand up and take notice.
Powerful and bold photos of a mother breastfeeding her children left an impact on us and we couldn't help but get in touch with her. Boldsky had an exclusive conversation with Instagram influencer Kamana Gautam and here is her story.
Hyderabad-based homemaker, social worker and a mother of two, Kamana Gautam has always been a health enthusiast but she says, that it's only after becoming a mother she understood the importance of lactation and breastfeeding for health.
Q. Tell us in details about the work you do and where did you get this idea from?
"I have always been working for public health and spreading awareness. But it was after giving birth to my first child in 2014 that I realised the importance of breastfeeding. But the taboo and the stigma associated with it broke my heart and I decided to chronicle my journey through Instagram, which became my diary. My Instagram profile is all about normalizing breastfeeding and to announce that feeding a child can never be a stigma. Ahead I went with my journey and people started joining in."
Q. Was your husband OK with this decision of yours?
"My husband has been very supportive and has never thought that this is something which will bring disgrace to me. He, in fact, thought it was a very noble thing to do. To be honest, I never ask for his approval before posting a picture, because I know it is fine by him and I believe in the work I do."
Q. How did you feel about the idea?
"I have always been empathetic to other mothers and women. After giving birth to my elder one, I felt the struggle of millions of women. I felt it is wrong to treat breastfeeding as an abnormal thing. All of us know that mother's milk is the healthiest, most economic and eco-friendly. We also acknowledge the fact that newly born babies cannot and should not consume anything apart from it, then why is it so that the society wants to lock up mothers in rooms when she is nurturing the future? Do they know that these lewd comments, stares and judgements, stress the mother and the milk supply goes down which in turn affects the baby's immunity?"
Q. Have you breastfed publicly?
"I was very unapologetic about public breastfeeding. A newly born has to be fed almost every hour and it is not possible to stay locked in rooms or get back home from wherever you are to feed the baby. Women do breastfeed in public, but what is not OK is the unhealthy stares she gets. The main work of breasts is to provide food to the child; the sexual framing of them is incomprehensible to me. It only shows the wrong mental conditioning of people to consider a female body as a sexual object. I, therefore, took up Instagram to reach a wider audience and spread positivity and awareness."
Q. What response did you get from the social media audience?
"When I started posting these pictures, the first thing that I faced is constant lewd messages. People thought if a lady is posing semi-nude, she must be an easy pick or she must be very easy to chat with. The next thing that came in was judgement. I was called an attention seeker because of my photos."
Q. How do you deal with it?
"I simply ignore haters. Anything they say cannot budge my belief in my work. When someone posts a normal picture they are not judged, then why do people posting pictures wanting to bring a change and spread awareness judged and called names? But these never bothered me!"
Q. Where do you wish to take this initiative of yours, in future?
"It has a long way to go. I have taken an initiative, but the society needs to contribute. I do my educational sessions in villages, do seminars, but I believe all mothers should contribute to this cause. People keep messaging me and sending me pictures of the work they do. I can't be happier when I see those. Soon, I will also start a blog to share my experiences."
Q. A message to all the mothers?
"Believe in yourself. You have the potential to nurture a life. Believe in your body!"