Published: 31st March 2021
Meet Swati Jagdish aka Maya's Amma, an instgrammer who talks about everything from sex education to relationships
Swati Jagdish is a lactation counsellor and a sex educator. In her Instagram page, she creates content with her daughter Maya
Swati Jagdish and her seven-year-old daughter Maya had just gotten back home when we spoke to her over a phone call. On the way, Swati tells us that she had met somebody who follows her on Instagram. After talking to her for a while, she went on to address Maya as Mayu, a nickname that her family calls her. Maya was quick to stop the stranger and tell her that she would only want her family to address her by her nickname. Swati beamed with pride. Her little one had mastered consent at quite a young age.
Consent is one of the many things that Swati talks to her followers about and, of course, Maya. A trained lactation counsellor and sex educator, she works on normalising conversations about the body, anatomy, sexuality, relationships and much more. Swati says that her initial motive was to share her journey on lactation through Instagram. But later, she thought of switching it to a parenting page where she could talk about herself and Maya and their relationship. This struck a chord with a lot of people. The popularity was instant. She now has over 1,35,000 followers on the platform.
"Maya would see mothers breastfeeding all the time. No, kids won't turn out bad if you expose them to all these situations. They will be aware and confident about their own bodies," she says. Apart from her Instagram posts, stories and experiments, Swati also conducts workshops on relationships, anatomy and, of course, lactation and sex education. By the beginning of May, she says that she will be all set to do another session on puberty. "I'm also waiting for schools to contact me for sessions on these topics," she says.
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Swati says that it all began in 2014 when Maya was born. The same year, Swati lost both her parents. "This had put me in a tough spot," she says. That was when she first became active on several parenting groups on Facebook and started organising offline sessions for mothers in her city, Coimbatore. "I realised that mothers need a lot of peer-to-peer support. In those sessions, we discussed everything from cloth diapers to breastfeeding and baby carriers," she recalls.
Swati remembers how she used to breastfeed her daughter throughout the sessions and mothers used to look up to her and ask questions on lactation. "That was when I did a course on lactation counselling and started working at a hospital," she says. While, initially, Swati wrote long Facebook posts on lactation, she then thought of exploring Instagram. During her journey as a lactation counsellor, Swati says that she is baffled by how much breasts are sexualised. "A lot of women are not allowed to breastfeed in front of their husbands and elder children. I had a lot of unanswered questions around it," she says. She was also quite puzzled about how breastfeeding awareness sessions in colleges were limited to girl students, while it is a parenting issue that people from other genders too cannot avoid.
Following this, she did yet another course, to train herself as a sex educator. "A lot of problems around us can be avoided if parents are more open to children. So, I decided to do the course myself. I didn't want to talk about sexual abuse or become a sex therapist. I wanted to talk about the good things, anatomy, consent and autonomy. Sexuality has a lot of positive things," she notes.
Swati says that her Instagram posts have made a difference in the lives of at least some people. "A lot of them have told me how they've started having conversations more freely. Their children are also feeling free to talk to them, owing to this," she says. There have been negative instances as well. However, Swati says, "Their viewpoints change after they start following me. When people observe, they get eased into the conversation. Sex education is about a lot more than having sex," she says.