Breastfeeding for Infants and Infant Survival : Happy Workspaces

Breastfeeding for Infants and Infant Survival : Happy Workspaces

At Arupa Mission Research Foundation we have a firm belief that breastfeeding is essential to ensure that infants/ little babies get the most perfect food that they require for their growth- physical and mental, internal capacity to fight against diseases and all the nutrients to keep them healthy and active. Breastfeeding is a natural process. It helps in mother and child bonding too.
However, one must have accurate information on:

  • How to breastfeed and do’s and don’ts.
  • One must have a space for exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months post birth.
  • And if working a supportive workplace to spend a few hours with the little one.
  • Stay away from myths around breastfeeding.

All these are essential to make breastfeeding effective. Knowing about these points, ensuring that everything is in place for breastfeeding can have a great impact on the survival of an infant.

Yes the yellow sticky colostrum is just fantastic baby food for one’s little one- certainly not to be thrown away. And yes one needs to make sure that the newborn is fed colostrum in the first hour after birth. And that one continues with breast feeding for as long (at least up to two years) as possible along with other complimentary food as the baby grows. But exclusive breastfeeding for six months is a must.

We always advocate for a happy and enabling work environment for women and men. It is essential that an exclusive space for breastfeeding be carved out so that nursing mothers can pass on those essential micro nutrients to the infants- very important for child survival. Along with this, measures for child care support at the work space, flexible working hours and support from teams in terms of time and flexibility can go a great way in ensuring that an infant is not deprived of it’s right to breastfeeding and the essential food it needs for it’s growth. Team members should be sensitised to understand the needs of a new mother and her infant. Achieving goals is all a part of team work and sensitivity towards the new mother and child can be great support mentally and in work too.

With the new Maternity Act in place, it is expected that working women who are new mothers will have the opportunity to exclusive breastfeed their infants and take care of them in the critical six months, thus ensuring their good health and survival. However, there are looming concerns among different sectors as to what would the loss of productivity be if a term of six months of leave is given to women.

Key Highlights from the New Maternity Act:

  • Leave for working women raised from 12 weeks.
  • Will benefit 1.8 mn women.
  • Will apply to first 2 children; for third child leave will be 12 weeks i.e. Increased Maternity Benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children.
  • 12 weeks Maternity Benefit to a ‘Commissioning mother’ and ‘Adopting mother’.
  • Facilitate ‘Work from home’.
  • Mandatory provision of Creche in respect of establishment having 50 or more employees.

Hopefully, the new maternity act will not be a tool used for discriminating in engagement of women in work.

As for now here are the takeaways of principles essential for ensuring infant and young child health “Quoted” from the policy framework of the Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding-WHO/UNICEF which can be part of advocacy and policy as well as implementation of projects and programmes:

  • Inappropriate feeding practices and their consequences are major obstacles to sustainable socioeconomic development and poverty reduction. Governments will be unsuccessful in their efforts to accelerate economic development in any significant long-term sense until optimal child growth and development, especially through appropriate feeding practices, are ensured.
  • Appropriate evidence-based feeding practices are essential for attaining and maintaining proper nutrition and health.
  • Mothers and babies form an inseparable biological and social unit; the health and nutrition of one group cannot be divorced from the health and nutrition of the other.
  • Keeping improved infant and young child feeding high on the public health.
  • agenda is crucial to consolidating gains made during the past two decades.
  • Twenty years after adoption of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and 10 years into giving practical effect to the World Declaration and Plan of Action for Nutrition, the Innocenti Declaration and the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative, it is time for governments, the international community and other concerned parties to renew their commitment to promoting the health and nutrition of infants and young children and to work together for this purpose.
  • Although not every component is new, what is novel about the global strategy is its integrated comprehensive approach and the degree of urgency called for in implementing it, in order to deal effectively with so elementary a challenge as ensuring appropriate feeding for the world’s children.
  • The most rational and economical approach to achieving the strategy’s aim and objectives is to use existing health and inter-sectoral structures, reinforced where necessary.
  • Success in implementing the global strategy rests, first and foremost, on achieving political commitment at the highest level and assembling the indispensable human and financial resources.
  • Additional high-priority conditions for success include definition of suitable goals and objectives, a realistic timeline for their achievement, and measurable process and output indicators that will permit an accurate monitoring and evaluation of action taken and a rapid response to identified needs.
Sonali Patnaik
Director,
Arupa Mission Research Foundation

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