World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
2013 World Breastfeeding Week has just been concluded, but the BIG question is, are the OBJECTIVES achievable?
In the spirit of Breastfeeding support, an independent survey was carried out in FCT-Abuja by Nutrition Alert to ascertain how much support/encouragement mothers are getting. Over 90% of the mothers involved in this survey are working mothers in private organizations. The survey findings showed that many mothers are indeed aware of the benefits of breastfeeding their children, and a majority would want to breastfeed exclusively if they had the support of their employers.
It was alarming to discover that a lot of the mothers in the survey resumed work only 6 weeks after delivery and had to rely on infant formulas because their work places are not friendly for babies and their schedule does not allow time for them to express breast milk and they do not get adequate rest to enable lactation.
The sharp decline in breastfeeding rates, and practices in the weeks following delivery, particularly exclusive breastfeeding is not only as a result of lack of support from the home or the community. When a mother is a sole or a joint bread winner, support from only the home and community is not enough. Policies that will force employers to support breastfeeding mothers too are mostly need. When they are lacking, formulas becomes the mother’s closest ally and exclusive breastfeeding will be just a dream.