|In the many villages scattered across the Kutch district of Gujarat, the age old tradition of feeding newborn infants regularly with jaggery water instead of the mother's milk continues even to this day.
Amongst the many superstitions prevailing, the most popular ones are tying the tail hair of an animal called Pahodi around the neck of the infant to ward off evil spirits,and applying water (instead of breast milk) on the lips of babies to stop them from crying.
Colostrum, the first milk secreted by the mother just after giving birth to her child is considered by many to be unhealthy and bad for consumption.Yellowish in color, the sticky substance contains the necessary immune cells, nutrients, vitamin A, sodium and antibodies which have a laxative effect and encourages the passing of the baby's first stool. The concentration of protein in it is higher than that in normal breast-milk and includes less fats and carbohydrates. Colostrum not only provides the essential nutrients in the right proportion but also boosts the immune system of the newborn baby. Sadly, colostrum is never given to most babies due to the belief that it is unhealthy and too heavy to consume.
Dhaniben along with her husband Dineshbhai Koli from Helipad, a remote hamlet in Rapar taluka of Kutch district welcomed their son Vishal four months ago. Vishal was underweight at 1.8 kilograms at the time of birth.
The Kolis belong to the Koli caste whose main occupation is coal making and daily labour.Dhaniben's family too are labourers. While on some days Dhaniben sells vegetables, on other days she works on fields. Both Daniben and her husband earn around Rs 100 a day.
It is common for women like Dhaniben to breastfeed only when their babies are awake or crying as they are busy working and are unaware that the baby must be breastfed atleast 8 to 10 times in 24 hours. CRY along with its partner Gram Swaraj Sangh made every effort to ensure that Dhaniben's baby was breastfed adequately, and the first step in this direction was taking care of the new mother,s diet and rest regime.