Breastfeeding is essential for babies to develop and nurture an intimate link with their mothers. Breast milk is highly important in a baby’s first months of life, as it strengthens immunity, it offers comfort and it provides all the necessary antibodies to prevent infections. Children develop their personalities since early days of life and for that to happen on a healthy and natural ground, breastfeeding is essential. It is a question of human connection, adaptation to a new reality and comfort, which are all key attributes for a healthy progress of the infant.
The first week in August is dedicated to celebrating breastfeeding. More than 170 countries participate in the worldwide celebration, which promotes the health of babies and mothers. This special event is envisioned as an efficient manner to raise awareness over the fact that breastfeeding is not a lifestyle of choice but rather a natural process that comes with extremely important benefits.
In support of that, the UN has called for stronger support systems and policies for working mothers, in order to allow them to breastfeed their babies. The general theme of this year’s celebration is “Women and work- Let’s make it work”.
Our society is changing at a fast pace and more often than not, the change leads to a new way of envisioning family life. Women are more driven to build strong careers rather than nurse their babies at home. Moreover, corporate policies are sometimes limited when it comes to offering women the necessary space and holiday to stay home and breastfeed their babies. For instance, a current initiative from IBM states that nursing mothers are allowed to rapidly ship their breastmilk at home rather than stay at home with their babies. This sounds rather peculiar, considering the fact that bonding is extremely important in an infant’s first months of life. Corporate organizations support working mothers only half way, offering them the alternative of compromise.
As the UN highlighted, nursing mothers need more attention from officials and the international breastfeeding celebration is a good chance to highlight this matter.
There is a lot to be done in order to overcome a potential obstacle that could prevent millions of women from breastfeeding. There are still workplace policies which don’t allow working mothers to breastfeed their babies on the job, although this is one of the most natural processes. According to extensive studies, of the 830 million women workers in the world today, most don’t have the “privilege” of policies that support nursing. The figures don’t include women who work in informal, seasonal or part-time employment.
Mothers with maternity benefits which include a breastfeeding supportive workplace, report increased job satisfaction and greater loyalty to their employers. That being said, governments should ac by making breastfeeding “a policy priority in national development plans”.
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