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Breastfeeding practices have improved in India says UNICEF

Posted:  Monday, August 17, 2015

The recently celebrated World Breastfeeding Week brought some cheer to everyone. Breastfeeding practices in India have improved over the past few years.

"In India, between 2006 and 2013, there has been an improvement in the breastfeeding rates. The latest data show that 44.6 per cent children are put to breastfeeding within one hour of birth and 64.9 per cent children under six months of age are exclusively breastfed," said UNICEF Nutrition Specialist Gayatri Singh. These were the figures of the Rapid Survey on Children 2013-14 conducted by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development.

While there has been some progress, efforts are required to address issues like maternity leave and mother-friendly workplace. This year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme emphasised the need for better support systems and policies to enable working mothers to breastfeed.

“In India, working mothers always face the pressure to return to work in the absence of paid maternity leave or other maternity benefits. Besides, lack of mother-friendly workplace, poor access to infant and child care facility close to the workplace and poor access to information on the maternity entitlements are adding to the woes of the working-mothers in the country," she said.

By improving workplace support for breastfeeding women, employers could benefit as it would lead to increased productivity, job satisfaction and loyalty.

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