KOCHI: At a time when breastfeeding in public places is considered a taboo, it becomes important to create special enclosures for mothers. Even as the state government is taking steps to make the public places mother-friendly, Technopark on Tuesday set the ball rolling by installing India’s first lactation pod.
The pod was manufactured and installed by the startup I Love 9 Months. According to its co-founder Ganga Raj, it has already been set up in Thrissur.
I Love 9 Months co-founder Ganga Raj said: “The pod has been installed at a diner Madhurai. The lactation pod’s aim is to help women who rejoin work after maternity leave to continue breastfeeding their babies. It has facilities including a fridge and birth companion to help the young mothers.”The pod comes equipped with a breast pump, sanitiser, tissues and other necessary gadgets.
“The women can express their milk, refrigerate it and take it home after working hours. It not only soothes the mother, but also ensures the baby doesn’t miss out on breast milk,” she said.According to Ganga, the women who drop their infants off at the child care centres in the companies can make use of the pods to breastfeed their kids. Till date, the startup has set up two pods --- one in a public place (the restaurant) and another at a corporate office (Technopark).
According to Priya Mathew, mother of a six-month-old, some textile showrooms and malls have feeding and changing rooms.“But the facility isn’t widely available. It makes going out with the baby a dreadful experience. Whenever the baby needs feeding, the floor managers or the salespersons direct us to the restrooms, which mostly aren’t clean,” she said.
“If such pods are installed in public places like bus stand and government offices, it’ll help a lot of women. We won’t be forced to go into a self-issued confinement if the government takes steps to set up such places.”
According to Sheeba George, director of Department of Women and Child Development, the state government has already issued a directive to all District Collectors regarding this. “They’ve been directed to set up breastfeeding rooms in public places, especially at the collectorate,” she said. “The department will follow up on the directive.”
Kerala Startup Mission CEO Saji Gopinath said: “This is a novel and necessary initiative. We’ll be providing the startup with all the help to make the pods popular. Women need a space where they can feed their infants without inhibition.”
I Love 9 Months is in talks with Infopark and corporate companies regarding the installation of breastfeeding and lactation pods. There are two variants of the pod --- for public places (Rs1.5 lakh) and for corporate companies (Rs 2.5 lakh).