The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have team up to push more improved breastfeeding policies for working moms. Both groups think that while governmental laws promoting breastfeeding and breastfeeding practices are available, much more should be performed to prevent the challenges that possibly millions of mothers in the world are experiencing in successfully breastfeeding their child. One of these obstacles is the lack of ample workplace policies that support breastfeeding.
As per estimates, about 830 million moms are working for a living. Majority of mothers from this estimated number do not enjoy the benefits of workplace policies and thus are not able to express their breast milk successfully. The said estimated statistics do not encompass the mothers who engage in part-time, informal and seasonal jobs, which are rampant in developing countries. Other unfavorable working conditions, which may be present in such nations, may also add to the barriers that can prevent nursing mothers to breastfeed or express milk.
Although it may sound as if mothers and babies are on the losing end, employers may also feel the burden that lack of workplace breastfeeding policies may bring. As per surveys, mothers who are employed in companies that have sufficient maternal leaves and benefits, as well as workplace nursing policies report higher employer satisfaction and thus foster loyalty and better performance at work. Children who are fully breastfed do not contract diseases much often, which lessen absenteeism among their mothers. These factors, among many others, may result in overall higher productivity levels and better business outcomes.
The International Labor Organization has approved three conventions to ensure that mothers and pregnant women are protected adequately. The said conventions include promoting continuous breastfeeding and providing alternate interventions for mothers who work outside of the conventional work environments. About 67 nations have already upheld at least one of the conventions and many other countries should follow suit.
The benefits of breastfeeding are well acknowledged all around the world so the challenge at present lies in making breastfeeding possible in various workplace settings. UNICEF and WHO are calling businesses, mothers and the members of the public to come together and make this possible.
The World Health Assembly is looking at elevating the number of children aged six months and below receiving breast milk to about 50 percent by 2025. One of the ways to help make this goal a reality is to address all the hindrances to effective breastfeeding, which include the lack of workplace policies for nursing mothers.
Photo: Arturo Sotillo | Flickr