Ask Amma

Posts Tagged ‘health’

My Old Bra is My New Mask

In What on 5 April 2020 at 8:15 pm

Stuff I should have thrown out long ago that now is proving useful includes … lonely socks, broken hairbands, torn clothes that I knew I couldn’t wear, but couldn’t admit that I’d never mend or make into a quilt (!)… and a bra whose hooks I knew I’d never replace and hence was sitting in limbo in a box along with junk mail that I need to go through and recycle. Read the rest of this entry »

For pocket, planet and a happy period: Nirmala talks about the menstrual cup

In Field Notes on 5 April 2017 at 10:41 am

One form of untouchability that we must work to eradicate is menstrual untouchability.  Unique to women, this oppression is based on the idea that a woman’s body is defective and dirty, and can pollute people and spaces if not kept in check.  A recent incident in a school in Uttar Pradesh highlights the need to fight the notion that menstruation is a cause for shame or punishment.  The principal of Kasturba Gandhi Residential School in Digri village made 70 girls strip and be searched for menstrual blood.  Following complaints by students and parents, the principal was fired.  Parents and teachers of  girls should help them to manage periods comfortably and to value the vitality in their bodies, including their menstrual blood, which makes it possible for a woman to nourish new life.

It is good that the community in Muzzafarnagar took decisive action against this outrage; yet menstrual untouchability persists in stark and subtle ways, not only in far flung villages but also among the urban educated.   In the march to consign menstrual taboo to the dustbin of history, one important step is to make periods more comfortable.

Read the rest of this entry »

Saves water, saves money, is comfortable: The Menstrual Cup

In What on 22 March 2017 at 8:00 pm

A couple of years ago, my friend Nirmala, who lives in a village in Srikakulam district decided to try the menstrual cup.  Recently I got a chance to chat with her about it.  She was quite happy with it – one of her first comments was that it really saved water.  They get their water from a pump – fortunately the pump is in their own front yard, but still, every bucket saved helps.  All the more so for women who collect water from a distance, especially in times of drought.

Today being World Water Day, here is a short excerpt from our conversation about the menstrual cup.  Stay tuned for the longer clip.

We All Live in Bhopal: Sign Petition to White House

In Call to Action on 8 May 2016 at 12:50 pm

The Mother hiding her face with one hand and carrying her child in the other, weeps for all of us.  This is the Memorial Statue honoring the victims of what many call the world’s worst industrial disaster, the explosion in the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal on December 3, 1984.  Survivors have been struggling for justice for over 30 years and are now petitioning the White House meet US obligations under Treaty & international law by immediately serving notice upon Dow to attend court in Bhopal on July 13, 2016.

Sign here: Tell the US Government to Stop Shielding Dow Chemical from its Crimes in Bhopal

We all live in Bhopal – please SIGN the PETITION. And please share widely. It’s what Julia Ward Howe, who proclaimed Mother’s Day in 1870 would do.

About the Artist & Sculpture Read the rest of this entry »

Reusable menstrual hygiene products: pros and cons

In What on 13 May 2015 at 12:46 pm

It was just after noon in Mumbai.  Our book club was just winding up and people were chatting in the cafe.  A woman called me aside and said, “is it really such a drawback to forget the date of your periods?”  She was referring to an article that appeared in the newspaper, where I called the “worst thing about the menstrual cup” the fact that wearing it made the days of one’s period feel so normal, that one could forget about it altogether.   “I meant it ironically,” I explained.  It’s like saying, “my worst fault is that I am too generous.”  “Oh!”  she smiled.

So when Bindu Mohanty of the #PeriodofChange Campaign asked me for a frank opinion on the pros and cons of reusable menstrual hygiene products, I almost began to reply in the same tenor.  Because, after all, are there in fact any cons?

Silhouette-of-ten-women Read the rest of this entry »

Disposable Pads: The Medium and the Message

In What on 11 May 2015 at 8:00 pm

What, in your opinion, are the pros and cons of disposable pads?  (If there are no pros you can list only cons.) 

 –   A blogger in Chandigarh

women talking shadowWhen asked to write about the pros and cons of disposable menstrual products, I remembered what a friend told me when she decided to give cloth pads a try.  Her mother was aghast.  Why do you want to do all that washing every month? she asked.  I was so glad when disposable sanitary napkins appeared in the market, I thought at last my daughter won’t go through all the same toil I went through during those bloody periods.

Why indeed?  Her daughter, my friend, proceeded to list the various negative health and environmental impacts of disposable pads and said that she didn’t want them next to her skin, she didn’t want to generate so much trash, and she wanted to practice a solution that would be affordable on a modest income.  That it would provide livelihood locally pleased her as well.

Her mother relented.  If disposable pads had so many cons maybe the time spent washing cloth was not wasted after all.

But was that, in fact, the only pro? Read the rest of this entry »

Weaning and Acne

In Why on 21 March 2015 at 8:00 pm

I am 33 and nursing my daughter.  I stopped pumping at work a couple of months ago.  I have noticed that lately, I am experiencing a lot of acne on face, around jaw line and neck.   I haven’t changed my diet drastically and was wondering if the nursing schedules or drop in pumping may be causing the acne.  Is there any natural stuff that I could use to control the crazy breakouts?

Mama of two in Austin

You are not the only one to experience an outbreak of acne following a sudden drop in nursing frequency.  It seems like any time we go through hormonal changes we are prone to acne.   You may already be aware that breast milk is a popular treatment for acne.  Once the hormones settle down so should the acne.   Some home remedies that might help include reducing intake of dairy and animal products, which come loaded with hormones, getting regular exercise, and the usual good dietary habits.

Acne apart, if you are nursing less during the day you can expect your daughter to make up for it at night and early in the morning.  Be sure to eat well and get enough rest and night-nursing will be boon to you as well as your daughter.

Pro-breastfeeding pediatrician?

In Questions on 28 January 2014 at 3:22 am

Do you know of a pro-breastfeeding pediatrician in the Juhu or Andheri area?  I have recently moved to Mumbai from Hyderabad and took my son to a very experienced pediatrician here who recommended clear soups to be started for my four month-old baby as he is a little underweight. I am of the opinion that solids be initiated after six months and that too in little quantities, more for taste rather than a substantial form of nutrition. I have no problem nursing and would like to nurse my second child as much as I have nursed my first born.

Most pediatricians advise supplementing with formula which I do not want to do. Please help.

– Mamma of a 4 month-old and a 2 year-old in Mumbai

Read the rest of this entry »

How to boost immunity

In How on 30 October 2013 at 10:25 pm

Our son is falling sick often. Last week he had another virus attack and this time it was foot, hand and mouth disease. He is doing a lot better now. But has lost some weight.  We feel it is certainly to do with his immunity, that he is falling sick so often.  How can we boost his immunity?

Parents of a 1 year old near Baltimore

Immunity depends on individual as well as community factors.  The example of Roseto* suggests that in a close-knit community, one is less prone to illness.  Although most discussions of health and immunity focus on tangibles, such as food, exercise, sleep, hygiene, environment and safety, intangibles play as much a role or more in keeping our immune system strong.   Read the rest of this entry »

Sunscreen … really?

In Yes / No on 8 June 2013 at 3:35 am
I am in a dilemma about whether I should start applying sunscreen to my daughter.  On a sunny day, she has red cheeks which go back to normal in a few hours.  Apart from a little tanning, our skin tone is not threatened by any sun burn, and in our childhood and even adult life, we never used sunscreen.  A friend mentioned that we must apply before swimming or on the beach because  water and sun combination makes sun extra dangerous.
But I am reluctant to apply sunscreen because the titanium or zinc dioxide present forms a thick impenetrable layer closing the spore, preventing sweating and thereby toxic elimination through skin which is normal body mechanism. That itself makes me wonder if it causing more harm than helping people. 
– Mama of a 1.5 year old in Connecticut
To sun or not to sun?  That is the question.
Whether it is nobler in the sun to bask
Risking UV rays, sunburn, and worse
Or to arm ourselves with Vitamin D
And cleanse ourselves through sweat
And by boosting our immunity, brave them?

Read the rest of this entry »

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