The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF have called for family-friendly policies for promoting breast feeding. The UN agencies have said that government and all employers should adopt policies that empower parents and enable breastfeeding.
The WHO said that family-friendly policies include paid parental leaves that enable breastfeeding and help parents nurture and bond with their children in early life, when it matters most.
The WHO said that family-friendly policies are particularly important for working parents. Mothers need time off from work to recover from birth and get breastfeeding off to a successful start.
“When a breastfeeding mother returns to work, her ability to continue breastfeeding depends on having access to breastfeeding breaks; a safe, private, and hygienic space for expressing and storing breastmilk; and affordable childcare at or near her workplace,” added the WHO in a recently released statement on occasion of World Breastfeeding Week.
The WHO pointed out that paid paternity leave allows fathers to bond with their babies and promotes gender-equality, including through the sharing of childrearing and household responsibilities.
Returning to work too soon is a barrier to the early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months and continued breastfeeding until age 2 or longer – practices that can boost children’s immune systems, shield them from disease, and provide protection from noncommunicable diseases later in life.
Family-friendly policies also support women’s participation in the workforce, improve their physical and mental health, and enhance family well-being. They also advance business objectives and strengthen the economy. These policies have been shown to increase employee retention, improve job satisfaction, and result in fewer absences. In short, family-friendly policies are good for families, babies and business.