BREASTFEEDING WEEK

Workplace barriers keep ‘career women’ from breastfeeding

These include sensitising staff, providing safe space and flexible hours

In Summary

• Studies show increased reduction in the practice among career women due to tight hours and busy schedules. 

• Support boosts female staff morale and reduces absenteeism. 

Breastfeeding mothers at Pumwani Hospital grounds during the celebrations of World's Breastfeeding Week
BOOSTS BABY'S HEALTH: Breastfeeding mothers at Pumwani Hospital grounds during the celebrations of World's Breastfeeding Week
Image: PATRICK VIDIJA

The world celebrates World Breastfeeding Week in the first seven days of August. This week aims to create awareness on the enormous benefits of breastfeeding to the welfare and health of babies in addition to a bigger drive for maternal health focused on food security, good nutrition and poverty reduction. This year’s theme is ‘Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding’.

Despite the great importance of breastfeeding, studies show increased reduction in the practice among career women. But what is that which hinders a modern working woman from breastfeeding their babies exclusively and beyond one year? Busy schedules and workplace dynamics for mothers who aspire to breastfeed may not always be conducive.

This week, therefore, flags the awareness of wellbeing and health outcomes of breastfeeding and the value of supporting breastfeeding mothers as long as they wish.

Workplace support for breastfeeding takes different forms which include providing workplace childcare sites, formulation of policies which support breastfeeding mothers, sensitising staff on breastfeeding, providing a safe space for breastfeeding, allowing flexible hours, return to work options and maternity leave extending to six months.

However, dedicated mothers suffer a myriad of challenges while striving to ensure the wellbeing of their babies. Some of these barriers include lack of storage for expressed breastmilk and pumps, low colleague and employer support and perceived or low breastmilk production.

Providing a safe environment for breastfeeding can boost female staff morale and increase productivity while minimising disengagement and absenteeism.

 

Nutritionist and mother