For Non-Health Professionals

Help promote Breast feeding week! 1-7 August 2023

Making breast feeding and work, Work!

“Breast feeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival and yet currently, fewer than half of infants under 6 months old are exclusively breastfed”. WHO :2023

Pregnancy and delivery and postnatal care of an infant is something often referred to in social circles as “women’s national duty”. Indeed national duty it is as women play a vital role in child bearing. However national duty often does not work well especially relating to breast feeding and the professional woman. It is challenging to return to to work and still continue breast feeding as the workplace environment, policies and regulations make this difficult. A study done in the Uk showed that

1.) 85% of women leave the full-time workforce within three years of having their first child, and 19% leave work completely, because businesses aren’t offering the flexibility needed,

2.) the number of female managers drops by 32% after having children, and the number of admin roles increases by 44% showing women are being forced into lesser-skilled roles,

3.) 44% of women are earning less than they were before they had children and it’s taking more than 10 years for their careers to recover 

The facts still remain:

  • More than half a billion working women are not given essential maternity protections in national laws
  • Just 20% of countries require employers to provide employees with paid breaks and facilities for breast feeding or expressing milk

Image adopted from

World health organisation(WHO) and UNICEF created the Global Breast feeding Collective to rally political, legal, financial, and public support for breast feeding. The Collective brings together implementers and donors from governments, philanthropies, international organizations, and civil society. 

A call to action.

In 2018, a World Health Assembly resolution endorsed World Breast feeding Week as an important health promotion strategy. With a different theme each year, it aims to promote the enabling environments that help women to breast feed – including support in the community and the workplace, with adequate protections in government policies and laws – as well as sharing information on breast feeding benefits and strategies. The theme for 2023 is “Making breast feeding and work, work!”.

Promoting breast feeding at work is essential for the well-being of societies. Breastfeeding offers crucial health and nutritional benefits to children, creating positive impacts that last a lifetime and contribute to healthier populations and workforces in the long run. Women should not be forced to choose between breastfeeding their children and their careers, as breastfeeding support is possible in all types of workplaces, sectors, and contracts. Implementing effective maternity protections not only improves the health of both children and women but also encourages breastfeeding. Currently, over half a billion working women lack access to essential maternity provisions, leaving many unsupported when they return to work. To address this WHO recommend that all women, regardless of their profession, should have access to at least 18 weeks, preferably more than 6 months, of paid maternity leave, along with paid time off for breastfeeding or expressing milk upon returning to work, and flexible options for their return.

Changing the narrative for breast feeding women.

What can be done to make national duty easier for women and encourage breastfeeding? This requires a multilateral approach at the policy level, employer/manger level as well as the employee level. Polices create an enabling environment and managers can demonstrate flexibility in line with the policies as well as ensure adequate space and time is availed to allow women to breastfeed and work .

Learn more about what can be done at each of these levels to make breastfeeding a success and join campaign to make breastfeeding and work, work!

Global health station promotes and supports Breast feeding.

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