Women who have lactating children need to breastfeed their children at regular intervals. There are two trains of thought regarding this. Some people feel that society should be able to make breastfeeding comfortable enough for women to be able to do it in the open. Others of the opinion that women should be provided private closed spaces where they can breastfeed their children. While it is good to think of a utopian world where women would be able to peacefully breastfeed their children anywhere without feeling awkward, there are actually two reasons why this doesn’t happen. Public space has so many new sights, sounds and smells for an infant that it can get distracted and disturbed, and not be able to feed properly. Second, many women still feel a little awkward exposing their body in public.
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In hospitals, offices, and other public spaces, there is a growing tendency to arrange for separate nursing rooms that can be used by infants and mothers. We were curious to understand how the scenario is in Indian airports. With the steep increase in the number of flights and the increase in the number of people who can afford flight tickets, our airports are handling the increasing number of passengers and visitors. That is why a secure space that affords privacy is very important in our airports.
These are some of the basic features that a nursing area or a child care facility needs to have:
- It should not be built as a restroom. The function of a bathroom or restroom is different. A baby care room or a nursing station must be a room dedicated to this purpose.
- If the area does not have adequate space for a separate room, then the nursing area should at least be a shielded (with curtains or faux walls) from public view.
- The area should not have free access to others using the airport. For this, a female attendant could be posted outside the area/room.
- The room should not only have adequate chairs, tables, and washbasins but should also have a bed for both mother and child.
If you are planning to board flights to the US or to any other country, you would be keen to know which airports have nursing rooms available. Let us give you a bird’s eye view of such facilities in the major airports of India.
New Delhi: There are three terminals T1, T2, and T3 in Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi. T3 is the newest and most talked about the terminal. There are daycare rooms which take care of infants and toddlers. There is also a childcare lounge in each terminal which is equipped with a number of useful facilities. These lounges also have baby cots in them.
Mumbai: The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport is well equipped to help mothers traveling with kids. There are specialized child care rooms available in both Terminals 1 and 2. Feeding can be easily done here. In Terminal 1, there are 2 such areas, opposite Gate 28 and in the pre-security check area. In Terminal 2, there are as many as 4 such rooms. Additionally, you can also use the baby strollers that are available in both terminals.
Kolkata: You will find baby care facilities in several areas of the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport. You can find adequate facilities for taking care of your baby in all privacy.
Bangalore: The Kempegowda International Airport at Bengaluru has a very attractive and useful website. It lists in detail all the features that are available for travelers. There are facilities for the differently abled and for those with hearing disabilities (the airport is announcement free). But we could find no mention on the website about nursing facilities that are provided.
Chennai: The Meenambakkam airport handles both domestic and international airports at Chennai. If you are looking for a private and secure area for changing soggy diapers or feeding your infant, or simply a place to allow it to take a short nap in peace, you can use any of the 5 child care rooms available in the domestic terminal and the 2 child care rooms available in the international terminal.
Pune: The Pune airport at Lohegaon has both domestic and international terminals at the same location. Pune airport is not very huge but it does have a baby care room available. In spite of recent controversies regarding the proximity of the childcare room and the smoking room, authorities have explained that as part of the planned expansion, this will be rectified.
The growing awareness of airport authorities in India has ensured that there are very few Indian airports which do not provide enough space for mothers and their infants. Apart from the major airports mentioned above, such facilities are now available also in the smaller airports.