Thursday, January 07, 2016
Although the advantages of breastfeeding for mothers and babies are established, continuing exclusive breastfeeding for six months proves to be a challenge. According to the 2014 report for Kentucky by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 61% of infants were ever breastfed and only 32% were breastfeeding at six months.
Working women need not prematurely stop breastfeeding. Proper planning and support from the community can help them continuously provide breast milk to their offspring. Women may resume their profession as well as continue breastfeeding if they can overcome the societal barriers. Involvement of the employers, family members and the community is crucial for such intervention.
Recognising the myriad obstacles for women working outside the home is the first step in supporting their breastfeeding goals. ‘Baby-Friendly’ facilities could be made available to teach new mothers on how to initiate breastfeeding. ‘Mommy and Me Workshops’ could be organised for educating women during the two weeks following delivery.
The key step for continuing breastfeeding is the storage of breast milk. Working women can pump breast milk and store it in bottles within a freezer. The containers must bear a label with the date so that the older bottles are taken up first. The milk is usable for three months if the bottles are placed in a standard freezer. In order to be able to pump milk at the best times and place, it is important to clearly discuss this matter with employers.
Moreover, the baby must be taught to drink breast milk from a bottle. This process must commence a few weeks before returning to work with assistance from family members. Providing women with the requisite support to fulfil their breastfeeding intention is truly a collective effort. Professionally employed women should be empowered to support their right for breastfeeding.
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