The objective of attaining a global target of 70 percent by 2030 can be expedited through the promotion and facilitation of breastfeeding within work environments. Acknowledging this, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus jointly stressed the pivotal role of supportive workplaces. They highlighted evidence indicating that the decline in breastfeeding rates among working women can be reversed if workplaces accommodate and enable mothers to continue breastfeeding their infants.
To foster such an environment, implementing family-friendly workplace policies is crucial. Provisions such as paid maternity leave, dedicated breastfeeding breaks, and designated lactation spaces contribute to a conducive atmosphere. These policies not only benefit working women and their families but also yield advantages for employers. By curbing maternity-related absenteeism, enhancing the retention of female employees, and diminishing the expenses associated with recruiting and training new personnel, these measures generate favorable economic outcomes.
The health advantages of breastfeeding are firmly grounded in scientific research and extensively documented. The practice serves as a cornerstone of child survival and development from the earliest stages of life. Breastfeeding bestows immunity against prevalent infectious ailments, bolstering the child’s immune system. Furthermore, it provides essential nutrients pivotal for optimal growth and development.
WHO and UNICEF jointly recommend the initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, advocating its continuation for the initial six months of the child’s life. This entails abstaining from introducing any other sustenance, including water. Infants should be breastfed as frequently as desired, both during the day and night. As children reach the age of six months, the introduction of safe and appropriate complementary foods becomes essential, while breastfeeding is advised to persist for a duration of up to two years or beyond.
The collaborative efforts of international organizations, workplaces, and individuals are essential to achieving the overarching goal of enhancing breastfeeding rates globally. The focus on workplace support during World Breastfeeding Week underscores the significance of creating an environment where women are empowered to balance their professional commitments with nurturing their infants through breastfeeding.