Make Breastfeeding at Work, Work.
Around 60% of working mothers in India stop breastfeeding before six months although the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for at least two years with at least six months of exclusive breastfeeding before complimentary food is introduced. As the world celebrates World Breastfeeding Week today, rightly the theme is “Make Breastfeeding at Work, Work” underscoring the gravity of the issue and changing this.
Pressure at work and lack of breastfeeding infrastructure at workplaces and public spaces besides unpaid maternity leave are the key reasons that push working mothers towards early weaning. While women working for the government or corporates can avail of six months of paid maternity leave, those in the unorganized sector are forced to wean the newborns early for economic reasons including loss of income. Lactation Consultant Teena Abishek tells tellmystory.in “We ought to educate employers. They ought to provide a breastfeeding friendly space and breastfeeding breaks so mothers can maintain their supply and extend breastfeeding”.
While breastfeeding helps healthy children and mothers, early weaning could impact the health of both babies and moms. Babies who are not breastfed are 14 times more likely to die before their first birthday than babies exclusively breastfed. Babies put on early complimentary food due could develop obesity, type II Diabetes Melitus besides lack of immunity. Mothers too are prone to develop breast or ovarian cancer and thyroid issues besides depression due to a sense of guilt.
One option experts suggest is “hand expressing”. The mother is trained to gently do a massage-like movement on the breasts and collect the milk, even during working hours, which can be stored or refrigerated to bottle feed the baby back home. A private place at an office or factory with a refrigerator would turn the place breastfeed-friendly. There are also manual or electric pumps that could make it easier. However, working mothers say this will work only if there is a good infrastructure and a supportive system in place.
Globally exclusive breastfeeding has increased by 10% over the last decade touching 48%. The WHO and UNICEF have set a target of increasing this to 70% by 2030. If you are an employer, entrepreneur or colleague make sure you join this movement to ensure you’d make the workplace breastfeeding friendly.
Check our website www.tellmystory.in
Follow our socials for more inspiring stories —YouTube: https://youtube.com/channel/