The Breast milk is nature gift to babies through mothers. It’s a gift to help children build a firm foundation for their nutrition and immunity. Despite the significance of breast milk, a lot of mums have been unable to feed their babies with breast milk as desired.
Feeding babies breast milk for the first six months of life have been recommended by the World Health Organisation and the 1-7 of August has been dedicated to increase the awareness about the importance of breast milk and also discuss some of the challenges that make breastfeeding difficult. The theme for the 2023 Breastfeeding week “Enabling breastfeeding:making a difference for working parents.
This shows this year’s focus is on working mothers and some of the challenges they encounter with breastfeeding and the solutions to it. Studies have shown that work is a major restrain that hinders a lot mothers from being able to perform this six months of selfless efforts.
In this article, I will be be discussing some of the factors that influence Nigerian working mothers decide not to practice exclusively feeding their babies breast milk for the first six months of life and some solutions to these hindrances.
- Price of Breast Pump: to be able to feed a baby breast milk as a working mum, there is a need to get a breast pump and a good one at that. The price of an effective breast pump ranges between 30,000 Naira and above and this price isn’t something some working mothers can afford as this is the amount some mothers even earn, imagine using your entire earning to buy a breast pump when you can get a formula for as low as 3,000 Naira.
Which will you choose?
-Power Outage: preserving breast milk requires adequate power supply which is like a luxury for a lot of Nigerians. If breast milk isn’t properly preserved, it could become a poison rather than a food to the baby. Unlike breast milk, there is no need to preserve formula.
-Feeding Safety Assurance: even if the breast milk is available another thing to worry about is the assurance that the caregivers at the daycare will abide by the food safety precautions for feeding breast milk.
-Short Maternity Leave: in Nigeria, only a few state governments approve a six months maternity leave which will give mothers adequate time to ensure they provide their babies with breast milk. Also, there are no records of private employers in Nigeria granting such long term leave while some that do, do so without payment and with the economic situation of Nigeria staying without an income for six months isn’t a risk lots of mums will be able to take since there is an alternative to breast milk.
What can we do to help?
Breastfeeding requires lots of energy and dedication and every mother requires all the support they can get during this period to help them enjoy a successful breastfeeding journey. So in what form can the support come?
Support from mothers: the first support mothers need for a successful breastfeeding journey is support from themselves. Being convinced about the benefits of the six months exclusive breastfeeding is a major motivator to ensure a baby gets adequate breast milk.
Support from Employers: state governments should put in more efforts into supporting mothers and should grant longer maternity leave with pay. Private employers could either extend maternity leave, have a work daycare,
Support from Government: government should put in more efforts into ensuring adequate power supply in the country, this way, power outage wouldn’t be a hinderances to helping mothers achieve a exclusive breast milk for the first six months of life.
Support from the daycare: daycare administrators should ensure caregivers are properly trained and abide by food safety rules.
Feeding Breast milk is one of the most effective ways to help babies build their immune system that give babies this great start at fighting diseases, we all must work together to help make it easier on mothers.