Balancing work and family life is necessary for women’s rights and a strong, healthy and vibrant workforce—and better society. Today’s global economic and labour conditions are changing rapidly, with some positives but many negative implications on women’s health and livelihoods, as well as that of their children and families.
By adequately integrating women’s and men’s productive and reproductive work and lives, all sectors of society will benefit. Benefits include productivity, family income and job security, women’s and children’s health and well-being, employers’ long-term profits and a nation’s socio-economic health and stability!
This year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme “Let’s Make it Work” therefore involves EVERYONE. Together, WE CAN MAKE IT WORK!
This year’s theme calls for global action on supporting women in successfully combining breastfeeding and work. In the recent decades, we have seen important actions taken globally to set up breastfeeding or mother-friendly workplaces. In India, the Maternity Benefit Act has been constituted to protect the rights of working mothers.
Although much has been achieved through the act in ensuring workplace support to mothers, global monitoring shows that successful exclusive breastfeeding by working mothers still remains a challenge.
Working outside the home is a common reason for the decline in exclusive breastfeeding rates around the world because breastfeeding and working outside are seen as mutually exclusive activities. But it is possible to continue breastfeeding the baby after returning to work!!
Here are some solutions to the problems frequently-faced by working women trying to exclusively breastfeed their babies-
1. How to continue exclusive breastfeeding?
· Breastmilk can be expressed by hand for feeding the baby later.
· Expressed breastmilk can be stored for up to 8 hours at room temperature and for 24 hours in refrigerator.
2. How to make a smooth shift to new routine when joining work?
· Being prepared for what’s to come, will help you make a smooth shift to the new routine.
· Learn and practice in advance how to express breastmilk.
· A few days before you return to work, give expressed breastmilk to your baby with a cup or spoon.
3. How to manage your schedule with long working hours?
· Breastfeed early in the morning.
· Also, breastfeed just before leaving for work and then fre quently again when you come back.
· Breastfeed as many times as possible at night.
· If crèche facilities are available near to place of work then baby can be fed during breaks.
4. How to know whether baby is receiving adequate breastmilk?
If you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby and both these two signs are positive then your baby is receiving adequate breastmilk –
· Baby’s weight increases by atleast 500gm per month
· Baby passes urine more than 6 times in 24 hrs.
5. How to maintain milk supply??
· Breastfeed the baby frequently and on demand to establish a good milk supply.
· Express breastmilk even when away from baby (This may be fed to baby later or discarded).
· Stress or self doubt can hamper production and outflow of breastmilk. Don’t let them get to you!!