Re: The e-Consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security

Breastfeeding, a smart choice for working women.


Introduction: Mothers are the fastest-growing segment of current global workforce. In the past 20 years, the percentage of new mothers in the workforce has increased which makes women more challenging when they become pregnant. In most cases,  those mothers are not able to return works due to lack of support in work place or  lack of care giver who can take care of their baby during her absence that make it challenging to continue her jobs and results is discontinuation of  job in this stage. Those continue their job phase lots of challenges to continue breastfeeding to their child and started bottle feeding. It is well documented that one of the primary reasons for early breastfeeding cessation is the Mother’s return to work.         


Breastfeeding is a low-tech, low-cost health promotion behavior that has received increasing support from public health authorities worldwide over the past 50 years. It has become increasingly clear that breastfeeding is the best option for infant and young child feeding, and that not breastfeeding exposes mother and child to higher risks of ill health in both the short and long term.


Inappropriate Infant and Young Child Feeding practices is one of the major cause of child malnutrition. Initiation of breastfeeding within one hour, exclusive breastfeeding for first six months and continued breastfeeding for 20 to 23 months have been identified as major indicators for achieving Millenium Development Goal 4, reducing child mortality one third by 2015.


Barriers to optimal infant and young child feeding contribute to 1.4 million preventable deaths annually in children under five, the majority of whom are dying already during the first month of life. Initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of birth can reduce neonatal mortality by 20%, but shockingly, more than half the world’s newborns are not breastfeed within an hour of birth. Exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for 12 months may prevent under five child deaths by 13%, complementary feeding may contribute to reduce 6% child deaths (Lancet2003). Globally only around 37% of infants under six months are exclusively breastfed (Lancet2003). A 16-country study found that adequate maternity leave policies might increase breastfeeding sufficiently to prevent one to two neonatal deaths per 2,000 live births.


Human milk and infant formula are not equivalent and are not equally suitable options for infant feeding. Research    has found that for every $1 spent on breastfeeding support, companies save $3. This is because in companies which support breastfeeding women return to work earlier,fewer health-care dollars are spent, fewer sick days are taken, employees report greater job satisfaction, companies report reduced staff turnover.


Health insurance studies have documented that infants who are exclusively breastfed for three months or longer have overall health care costs that are $300-$400 less per year than infants who are bottlefed.  Evidence reported in a two-year study of 343 employees an annual savings of $240,000 in health care expenses.  Breastfeeding also Lower Absenteeism & Turnover Rates One-day absences to care for sick children occur more than twice as often for mothers of formula feeding infants.  A study of multiple companies with lactation support programs found an average retention rate of 94%.

Given this atmosphere of unacknowledged demand, there is an urgent need to educate employers on the value and feasibility of worksite breastfeeding support programs for business profitability. So  a  worksite breastfeeding support initiative can easily build upon the increased awareness of the importance of breastfeeding, utilizing a combination of outreach and education strategies to reach both employers and empoyees.Breastfeeding support in workplace improve retention, mitigates lost productivity/absenteeism, earlier return from maternity leave, higher employee loyalty and create a family friendly business.

Challenges and opportunities:


The challenge in terms of breastfeeding protection is the adoption and the monitoring of an adequate policy of maternity entitlements that facilitate six months of exclusive breastfeeding for women employed in all sectors, with urgent attention to the non-formal sector. Lack of support in Workplace, family members, poor Implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes makes mother more difficult to continue breastfeeding.


The Innocenti Declarations (1999, 2005) and WHO Global Strategy for IYCF (2002) call for provision of imaginative legislation to protect the breastfeeding rights of working women and further monitoring of its application consistent with ILO Maternity Protection Convention No 183, 2000 (MPC No. 183) and Recommendation 191. MPC No. 183 specifies that women workers should receive:


•    Health protection, job protection and non-discrimination for pregnant and breastfeeding workers
•    At least 14 weeks of paid maternity leave
•    One or more paid breastfeeding breaks daily or daily reduction of hours of work to breastfeed


Furthermore, Recommendation 191 encourages facilities for breastfeeding to be set up at or near the workplace.


Many country’s make good progress in tracking maternity protection and could manage six months maternity leave with payment, however, long ways needs to go to achive this.

Directions for the future:


•    Aware employers with this maternity protection law and encourage for incorpoarting into their existing policy.
•    Prenatal education classes for the pregnnat women in the work place
•    Orientation of employes with the advantages of breastfeeding
•    Establish baby creche in all work places.
•    Improve knowledge amongst both employers and employees regarding importance of proper breastfeeding and complemnetary feeding practices.
•    Establish a work site environment that favors mothers recently given birth breatsfeed exclusively enabling them to transition back into the workplace while optimizing the benefits their infants receive from being breastfed.
•    Advocate employes to make an reasonable time and private accommodations for employees to express milk at the workplace whom are not taken their baby in the work site.
•    Ensure Co-workers support in the work place.
•    Proper implementation of International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitute.
•    Provision of worksite based lactation management.


Submitted by: Eminence and Bangladesh Civil Society Network for Promoting Nutrition(BCSNPN)
3/6, Asad Avenue, Mohammadpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh.,,,