Confusion, depression, an overload of advice and exhaustion are common among expectant and new mothers. Sure, the new addition to the family is an exciting prospect but it is one which is accompanied by overwhelming and sometimes contradictory emotions.
In an attempt to help reduce the stress, three women - Courtney Wright Miller, Mirjam Dijkxhoorn and Sharathmika Kudva - connected on Facebook and created the non-profit Natural Parenting Community (NPC) in 2016. The community's purpose was to start a healthy discussion about the early stages of motherhood.
The three founders have since moved on and the community is now managed by Saranya Vijayakumar, Bharathi Kalyan, Wahida Satish Kumar and Aishwarya Jayaraman, all of them based in Chennai. The group has evolved into one that's mostly for mothers based in the city.
TNM connected with Saranya at NPC to tell us their story.
âNPC was created for new mothers in Chennai, to help them clear doubts about parenting, break myths surrounding breastfeeding and help in baby-wearing, cloth diapering and cleaning their babies. We are all living in nuclear set-ups, thereâs no proper support system like earlier," she says.
NPC attempts to act like a support system for new and expectant mothers in solving all their queries regarding childbirth and the different steps that follow it. An almost 4000-member community on
Facebook, NPC works through the day to communicate with mothers.
âWe work 24/7 to answer any and every query a new mother might have. Every query/doubt is answered individually and completely all day long," explains Saranya. For this, they meet on a Saturday every month at a memberâs house and have demonstrations, activities and discussions surrounding these topics.
The new mothers approach the group with questions about parenting methods, quality of hospitals, breastfeeding techniques like positions in which the baby latches on, and what to expect after giving birth. The questions are then answered by multiple members of the NPC. The community comprises mothers with years of parenting experience, including lactation consultants, who can provide a clear-cut, accurate description of childbirth and what comes after.
âIt is also a platform to start an open dialogue about these issues. At NPC, mothers are not embarrassed to ask and answer questions. Weâre completely open about it. In fact, we encourage fathers to join the community as well and support mothers. We just want them to be well-informed," says Saranya.
NPC has taken various initiatives to provide support to new and expectant mothers.
They started a breast milk donation drive in mid-March this year that was met with enthusiastic response by mothers all around Chennai.
âWe got a call from a childrenâs hospital in Chennai one day and they asked for donation of breast milk. We posted the request on our Facebook community and a number of mothers came forward to donate their breast milk," shares Saranya.
Since then, breast milk from donors has been regularly given to a childrenâs hospital in Chennai. This breast milk is fed to pre-term babies, who are born much before the due date. A motherâs body, after delivering a pre-term baby, goes through stress that prevents her from lactating. âDoctors in childrenâs hospitals usually provide formula milk to pre-term babies which is not the best for their health. The donor motherâs breast milk provides the necessary nutrition and protection for the baby.â
Now, NPC mothers regularly donate their breast milk. On most occasions, Saranya says that mothers go themselves to deliver their breast milk to the childrenâs hospital and that when theyâre unable to, a member of the NPC picks it up and delivers it on the motherâs behalf.
The NPC community also supports mothers who are entrepreneurs to sell goods. A recently organised campaign called âThree Bags Fullâ, provided a platform for these women to sell toys, baby carriers, gift items, cotton pads, cloth diapers, clothes for the mother and child, womenâs accessories and a lot of other support material.
You can follow them here: https://www.facebook.com/group