Every August the world celebrates world breastfeeding week with the aim to induce positive discussions about breastfeeding while encouraging the practice.
The theme for World Breastfeeding Week 2023 is “Let’s make breastfeeding and work, work!” The year’s campaign is geared toward promoting breastfeeding in workplaces by creating a conducive environment for working moms to pump or breastfeed.
It seeks to emphasize the need for greater breastfeeding support across all workplaces to sustain and improve progress on breastfeeding rates globally.
Supporting breastfeeding in the workplace is good for mothers, babies, and businesses, and for this reason, governments, donors, civil society, and the private sector should step up efforts to facilitate breastfeeding.
Research has shown that breastfeeding protects babies from common infectious diseases and boosts children’s immune systems, providing the key nutrients children need to grow and develop to their full potential.
Babies who are not breastfed are 14 times more likely to die before they reach their first birthday than babies who are exclusively breastfed.
According to World Health Organization, more than half a billion working women are not given essential maternity protections in national laws
Additionally, only 20 percent of countries require employers to provide employees with paid breaks and facilities for breastfeeding or expressing milk.
As a consequence, fewer than half of infants under 6 months of age are exclusively breastfed.
Although the prevalence of breastfeeding has increased by 10 percent in the last 10 years to stand at 48 percent, barriers that hinder breastfeeding at home and workplaces must be addressed in order to achieve the 2030 goal of 70 percent.
To achieve this goal, a conducive environment in workplaces is paramount. Research has shown that breastfeeding declines when women resume work. This negative impact can be reversed when workplaces facilitate mothers to continue to breastfeed their babies.
For this to happen, workplaces need to formulate family-friendly policies such as paid maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks, and a room where mothers can breastfeed or express milk.
The organizations on the other hand will reap massive benefits as these policies generate economic returns by reducing maternity-related absenteeism, increasing the retention of female workers, and reducing the costs of hiring and training new staff.