We live in times that are increasingly out of sync with natural rhythms, more often than not working mothers are imposing their work schedules onto their newly born babies and end up failing to practice exclusive breastfeed for the first six months as is recommended by health experts.
A call has been made for the government to enact policies that support and improve the balance between breastfeeding and work while International Labour Organisation (ILO) regulations should be ratified and implemented into the country’s legislation properly so as to capture the roles that women play in taking care of children.
Working mothers are expected to return to work less than three months after delivering their babies which is in contrast with recommendations that health experts give.
Without supporting national polices and legislation that include paid maternity leave and breastfeeding breaks, most women find it difficult to balance breastfeeding and work demands.
Some argue that urbanisation and the mother’s level of education are some of the factors that tend to shorten breastfeeding, but not so for the majority of mothers who attended the launch of breastfeeding week held at Zimbabwe grounds in Highfield.
Health and Child Care Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa said even when the mother is HIV positive, exclusive breastfeeding for six months is vital for the survival, growth and development of a child.
Minister of State for Harare Province, Cde Miriam Chikukwa also graced the occasion and said breastfeeding provides a time and a space that allows mothers to reconnect with their children in a meaningful way.
Various cooperating partners that include the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, MCHIP and Save the Children Foundation reiterated the importance of breast milk saying it is very nutritious, is related to increasing brain development, helps increase the baby’s immunity against diseases.
Breast feeding also protects the health of women by reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
World breastfeeding week is observed from August 1 to 7.