Monday, August 6, 2018

Why have I suddenly turned into a Breastfeeding awareness campaigner?

So I was quite ambitious to announce in my previous blogpost that I will make 3 quick and successive posts about Breastfeeding awareness. But karma always keeps a check on me, and decided that I will not have such ambitious thoughts and modified my son's sleep and play schedule to quell my ambitions. So before breastfeeding week ends altogether, I thought I will write a combined blogpost to do justice to my proud announcement.

When is World Breastfeeding Week?
World Breastfeeding week is celebrated in the first week of August every year. This year too August 1 to August 7 is World Breastfeeding Week.

Why have I suddenly turned into a breastfeeding awareness campaigner?
Well, for one, I had a baby. And despite having a generally knowledge-able support system around me during the pregnancy, delivery and convalenscence/recovery period, I got very little education from my seniors on the topic of breastfeeding. The C-section date was fixed, I got admitted, operation was successful, baby was in my arms and I had zero clue on what to do, what to expect. And since 'milk' did not start 'flowing' the moment I put the baby to the breast, while I pushed myself into self doubt, my support system added to my fears by talking about it in hushed tones as though it was god given punishment. Well it was not, it was lack of education. And I have had to deal with "your milk is not enough" conversations multiple times since then. All this drove me into serious phobia, depression and I became a galactagogue addict and overdoser, and due to the resultant excess milk supply, my son was on the verge of developing GERD, an extreme reflux/acidity syndrome in infants. My husband and the family at large was absolutely unaware of any of this. When I came upon the resources available in the Facebook group called Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers (thanks to this blogpost by my blogger friend Gracelyne Fernando), education happened and I went about fixing the mess that I had landed myself into. And I realised that I was not alone. "milk not enough" conversations are quite common it appears from the varied posts that I see on the aforementioned FB group, even today. Some samples are shared below(names and any references to the persons have been removed) -

"Ur milk is not enough that's y she is not sleeping...u won't agree to give formula..as she is vaccinated...she is becoming fussy at nights...if u give formula she will sleep for 5hrs.. don't be so stubborn for giving bf..we used to hear what our elders tell...ur not such of a kind..ur baby is hungry sucking fingers all time". 

*He is not getting enough milk 
*he doesnt like ur milk taste

Before i used to get more milk and nowadays my breasts are getting full only after 4 hrs. Before that if my lo drinks she's not getting enoughmilk and she cries

These are real conversations that are happening commonly in a lot of households.
This is why I am motivated to spread the knowledge and information about breastfeeding, especially to women who are about to deliver their child and their immediate support system.

Breastfeeding basics in a nutshell
Well there are a lot of things to understand, and it is best to study this document prepared by the Adminstrators of the Facebook group Breastfeeding support for Indian Mothers. But some key takeaways are -
  • Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for a child for the first 6 months
  • Latching the baby in the first one hour after delivery is important to establish the milk supply
  • Consuming galactagogues or milk secretion enhancers should be done when there is a real need for it.

What can you, as a reader of this blog, contribute to a breastfeeding mother's journey? If not how can you spread awareness about breastfeeding? 
First, if you know anyone who is about to deliver a baby, please take a printout of this document and ensure they read it. (I recently gave a print out of this document to a friend who was just about to deliver her child, and she just tossed it away to read 'later' and has not read it till date. I haven't checked on how her breastfeeding journey is as she is in her hometown right now)

Second, if you know anyone who has already delivered a baby, and they are facing difficulties in breastfeeding, please take them to a lactation consultant, before drawing conclusions about their low milk supply. Do a thorough profiling of their nutritional intake and see how you can help the mother improve her nutritional intake, instead of supplementing the baby's breastmilk.  Have calm conversations with the baby's mother and watch out for any signs of depression as depression can have harmful impacts on the Mother and baby's breastfeeding journey.


And if you are a mother reading these posts, and have made an informed to choice to 'supplement' your child's breastmilk intake with cow's milk or formula, that is really your call. The goal of this post is to spread knowledge and awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding.

There is a lot more to write and share, but this is all the time I can afford to give this at this moment.

That's it for now folks. Let's make this world a better place.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sock bag from scrap fabric

So I needed a bag/container to hold my son's socks that would also be handy to quickly grab a piece.  And I was reusing the plastic holder bag in which it came from the store. But the holder was for a capacity of 3 and I had to store more than 3 socks, I was stuffing it to the max. It was starting to wear out and wasnt containing all the socks anyway. Earlier, I would have done a couple of rounds in Lifestyle store, or in DMart or in Homecentre for some organizer and would have been done with it. But there is a ban on DMart visits in our house, and outings are really rationed with the toddler's schedule getting highest priority. So I was rummaging through my scraps and found a trapeziodal piece that I thought would fit the bill to be converted into a sock bag.

I initially started hand sewing the edges, and was wishing for something that would get the job done faster without needing to go to the tailor. While looking through Amazon for some fabric glue, it struck me that I had a bottle of mod-podge from my previous life (:P). Mod podge is a famous crafting supply - it is a decoupage medium - an all-in-one glue, sealer and finish used to attach paper and fabric to various surfaces. Since this project was anyway about using up scraps, I decided to put it to use and applied it liberally to the corners of the fabric which needed to be attached. While doing it, I was doubtful if it would work. But a few hours of drying and it was like magic! Attaching pictures and descriptions, the photo of the final product is at the end.

The design was simple - I had a trapezium shaped fabric, I decided to fold it in half and secure two of the open sides. and I could have a bag like structure ready.

So this is the bag like piece - Notice the stitches on the two sides? That's where I applied Mod podge glue and secured the two edges. It was looking a bit too plain and I was not sure if the glue will wash out when the bag goes for laundry, so I decided to make some blanket stitches just as an extra level of security. 

For the top open edge, I didnt feel like mod podg-ing the irregular edges so I decided to hand stitch. While doing this, I realised that I had cut the fabric in a bit of a hotchpotch way, so I had to do different types of stitches at different zones of the same edge!!
I started with a back stitch, and ended up hemming the second half of the length!



Now, the basic bag was ready - but I still needed a handle of some sort with which it could hang on my wardrobe's handle. After thinking briefly, I decided to cut up the mini hanger from my previous sock holder and..

The old plastic socks holder from which I cut off the plastic hanger

mod-podged it in place, of course!!
The plastic hanger getting a coat of mod-podge with a layer of base fabric

Secured onto the bag


So finally this is how it looks. It was looking a bit drab - so I decided to use up some old left over fabric paint to make a design on it. Afterall, the whole project was about using up old left over stuff!

Picture with the socks getting loaded



Finally in its place -


A closer look at the design - 



Well, it is not a fabulous looking piece, it is has a lot of flaws in the sense - there are all sorts of stitches on the hem, the blanket stitch isnt done till the end, the fabric piece for the hanger is in a randomly different color, and the base fabric itself is a bit drab. But, it is functional and at this point a successfully working proof of concept. And done in a jiffy with the limited time that I have in my hands. So as the famous tagline goes - Tedha hai par mera hai. Adios folks!



Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Awareness for Breastfeeding - World Breastfeeding Week 2018


World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is a global network of individuals and organisations concerned with the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide based on the Innocenti Declarations, the Ten Links for Nurturing the Future and the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding. WABA is in consultative status with UNICEF and an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).

WABA coordinates the annual World Breastfeeding Week campaign. WABA works closely with many organisations and individuals. Our partners in this effort include:  the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM)International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN)International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) La Leche League International (LLLI) United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) World Health Organisation (WHO) Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and several other international organisations.


WABA's work, including World Breastfeeding Week, is made possible through the generous support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).


All the material on the WorldBreastfeedingWeek website is driven around conversations that are held in western countries around eradicating poverty,etc. I would like to drive conversations from a layman point of view, from the Indian perspective. In a country like India, where people have found ways of making tradition co-exist with modernity in multiple spheres of life, sadly, one area where people (in the last 30 years) have been meticulously schooled away from is breastfeeding.  What seems like a very natural thing to do, is exactly what has become very complicated due to various social conditioning.  While in the urban centers, people are being lured into formula feeding, there are quite a few rural centers where the support system around the new mother is quick to suggest alternatives(such as cow's milk) to breastmilk. I am not a vegan-ist or an anti cow's milk campaigner, but I definitely consider that the first 6 months of a child's life should be an intervention/alternative free natural diet.  Intervention, and/or supplementation should be only on a strictly case by case basis where there is a valid medical reason to do so. That said, one cannot impinge upon the personal choices made by a mother for her child, but is the support system around her ready with the knowledge and information that will enable her to make an informed decision? I am not sure. Anyway, without digressing, this is an upcoming series of blogposts to spread awareness about breastfeeding, which is needed sadly, even though it is the so called modern age of 2018.

So when is World Breastfeeding Week?
What can you do to spread awareness about Breastfeeding? 
Know someone who is pregnant and is about to deliver soon? How can you reach out to them and contribute to their breastfeeding journey?
Why have I suddenly turned into a Breastfeeding awareness campaigner?

Here is my next blog post that attempts to answer some of these questions 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Music album for children(and adults) - The Talking Trees

Music is wonderful a medium of education, I have personally experienced this multiple times during my days of school and college.
Here is a music album of songs in Tamil language about some of the life sustaining trees of India. The content of the songs is structured as a conversation between an inquisitive squirrel asking questions and the trees responding accordingly. This is an audio publication by STD PATHASALA, an organization that I have been associated with since childhood. This music album is available on iTunes, Saavn and Spotify.. Please do check it out..



A cute collection of songs on some of the life sustaining trees of India - "Pesum Marangal" aka "The Talking Trees". You can now listen to the complete album on any of your favourite music apps. Click away and enjoy the lovely music and do share it with children.
ITunes - https://goo.gl/5NLPxS
Saavn - https://goo.gl/dLy5iJ
Google Play music - https://play.google.com/store/music/album?id=B62mhqno3qcx5wqmyokz23rzaka
Spotify - https://goo.gl/zrthTr

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Plastic ban - Vegetable organizer bag

Single use, super thin Plastic bags are getting banned in one state after another in India. It is already banned in Maharashtra and is going to be banned in Tamil Nadu from January next year (I think).

From my usage pattern, I observed that the biggest dependency on plastic carry bags for me is to organize my vegetables at the time of purchase itself as I am otherwise too lazy to sort them all over again after coming back home. I used to re-use those thin carry bags for this purpose  But with Maharashtra state government's ban on plastic bags, vendors are refusing to give vegetables even in plastic bags that I bring along with me, fearing the fine. So what to do now? Enter the brain of a educated graduate who does not have a paid 9 to 5 job.

I rummaged by almirah and found that I had a few pillow cases that I would like to discard as they are old, faded and look worn out. But the fabric still has some life in it. So here is how I am converting them into bags to carry vegetables.

Here is the pillow case 

Cut into two halves. Using a scissor, open up one side of the seam up to half the length of your forefinger. 
Fold along the edge leaving enough space to pass a drawstring through it. And sew it along. 

I don't have a sewing machine, and it has been ages since I have hand-sewn anything. So this is what my stitching looked like in the first few minutes. I wanted it to be a little durable, so I decided to do a blanket stitch so I won't have to search for  a roadside tailor to re-do the stitches for some time at least. I removed all the knots and persevered again. 

Here is how it looks after the second attempt 

Finished stitching around the edge
Drawstring inserted

Vegetable organizer ready



Saturday, May 26, 2018

His Loving Gaze

From a very young age I have been known to be a poised person, not one to be taken over by impulse. But post delivering my son 15 months ago, my hormones have been raging like that of a teenager. And there are no words to describe how it is to feel like a 17 year old in a 31 year old physical form - where you have to 'adult' (verb form usage mean act like an adult) with people around you, especially your spouse who is super-adulting due to his corporate work environment where he spends close to 10 hours a day. 'Frustrating' describes this situation rather mildly.

Nevertheless, like it or not, one needs to deal with 'it' as you have mouths(and hungry stomachs) to feed, and a baby to be taken care of  which necessitates the need for atleast some amount of stable mind and rational thinking.  And the only way to do that is to channelise the surplus swinging temperament into something creative. So here is a poem I wrote recently -


His Loving Gaze

His loving gaze
That melts you from inside
That warms your heart
That fills you with hope and strength
That reassures you that He is there for you
That makes sure you are protected. Always.
That sometimes turns into "I told you to listen to me" look
That traces your curves as you do your morning stretch
That turns away when you turn and look for it
That you have learnt to sense from your heart
That you want to enjoy eye to eye
That is cast upon you only exactly when you look away
That, by now, you have learnt to enjoy through the corner of your eye
That is as warm as his embrace
His Loving Gaze, His Loving Grace


When reading the above please read every line to begin with the phrase 'His loving gaze'

Image credit - https://i.ytimg.com/vi/7PkV0EQjiVk/maxresdefault.jpg