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Dhaka Tribune

Baby care: Dhaka malls need more breastfeeding corners

  • Most malls do not provide any facility for mothers
  • Information on breastfeeding corners inadequate
Update : 08 Oct 2023, 09:18 AM

Breast milk serves as the primary source of nourishment for infants after birth, rich in vital elements essential for their physical and mental development. 

According to Unicef, newborns require breast milk within the first hour of life, a critical imperative for their well-being. Insufficient access to breast milk can result in severe health complications, even endangering their lives. 

Beyond immediate sustenance, breast milk offers protection against an array of physical ailments, including diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and obesity. This act of breastfeeding benefits both the child and the mother.

A study conducted across diverse nations, encompassing both affluent and resource-challenged countries, underscores the significance of breastfeeding. 

Breastfeeding corner at a shopping complex in Dhaka. Photo: Famiha Suhrawardy/Dhaka Tribune

Published in The Lancet in 2016, it reveals a global increase in breastfeeding rates, potentially saving the lives of 823,000 children under five and 20,000 mothers annually from breast cancer.

Amidst the bustling thoroughfares of Dhaka city, many mothers frequent shopping malls, often accompanied by their breastfed infants. 

A pertinent question arises: how do these mothers manage breastfeeding in these bustling shopping complexes?

Situation at major shopping malls

Some major shopping malls in Dhaka have responded to the needs of mothers by establishing breastfeeding corners.

At the Bashundhara City Complex, a designated breastfeeding area is situated on the fourth floor, adjacent to the women's prayer area. This small room is subdivided into four sections, necessitating mothers to access the fourth floor for breastfeeding. Additionally, diaper-changing facilities are available in the "D" block on each floor of the mall.

Jamuna Future Park, another prominent shopping mall, offers a "baby changing room" located in proximity to the women's bathroom on every floor, complete with privacy curtains and dedicated spaces for diaper changes and baby care.

However, it is worth noting that the breastfeeding corner at Shimanto Square is comparatively small in size compared to similar corners in larger shopping malls.

Within the bustling marketplace, including renowned locations such as Gawsia, Noor Mansion, Chishtia, and Ismail Mansion, only Noor Mansion has introduced breastfeeding arrangements. On the market's third floor, benches are positioned adjacent to the women's restroom.

Haji Md Shahadat Hossain Khan, vice president of Noor Mansion, highlighted the importance of such provisions and expressed a commitment to expanding these facilities further in response to the growing number of female shoppers.

Lack of information

Despite the presence of these facilities, there remains a significant lack of awareness among shoppers about the benefits of breastfeeding corners in shopping malls. 

Eva, a shopper at Jamuna Future Park, noted the absence of such arrangements in regular marketplaces.

This lack of awareness regarding the advantages of breastfeeding corners underscores the need for improved publicity and awareness campaigns. Vice President Haji Md. Shahadat Hossain Khan acknowledged the need for enhanced facilities and awareness, affirming the market's dedication to promoting these provisions.

Absent in most malls

On a contrasting note, notable malls like Anam Rangs, Rapa Plaza, Aarong, and Metro Shopping Mall currently lack designated breastfeeding corners.

Experts recommend breastfeeding every two hours for infants up to two years of age, emphasizing its critical role in infant health. 

Sabrina Rafi, a Unicef health officer, highlighted the importance of regular breastfeeding, particularly for working mothers, necessitating breastfeeding corners in workplaces and public places to ensure a safe and conducive environment for nursing infants.

During festive seasons, shopping mall footfalls surge, underscoring the glaring inadequacy of breastfeeding facilities in comparison to larger centers like Jamuna or Bashundhara. 

Tanjila, a mother who came for shopping, also said: “Daycare facilities can be seen in various garment factories. They are similarly needed in the markets.”

In this context, Sabrina Rafi stressed the necessity of breastfeeding corners in every shopping mall. 

She said: “It is very important to ensure that a mother can safely breastfeed her baby.” 

Moreover, she advocated for daycare centers within workplaces and the need for comprehensive childcare solutions in public places, recognizing that a single room is insufficient for attending to the diverse needs of children.

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