Hard for women
WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is six months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond. Currently, only 53% of babies in Nepal are breastfed exclusively till the age of 6 months and 35% are breastfed within the first hour of birth. The first milk, colostrum contains antibodies, which strengthens the immune system of the newborn. Breastfeeding prevents infant death, childhood illness and non-communicable diseases.
Studies have shown that breastfed infants are sharper than formula-fed babies. In Nepal, every year 57,000 children under-five years of age lose their lives, among which 54 per cent of the deaths occur within the first month of life. Twenty-two per cent of newborn deaths can be prevented through breastfeeding within the first hour of birth.
A research has found that 52.6 per cent mothers from rural area practiced Exclusive Breast Feeding, while only 20.8 per cent of mothers from the urban area fed their child only breast milk for the first six months after birth. In urban areas most of mothers are employed so introducing commercial products before six months of age is high. Breast feeding is a struggle for working women in Nepal because the workplaces are not mother friendly, and there is provision of maternity leave for upto 2 months only.
The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) maternity protection conventions of 2000 and its accompanying recommendation’s measure include ‘the right to one or more daily breaks or a reduction in working time for the purpose of breastfeeding’ but these things work at very few organizations.
Exclusively breastfeeding reduce child mortality by six per cent. Exclusive breast feeding for six months and continuous breast feeding for two years is a must to ensure that a baby develops strong immune system. Breastfeeding reduces the chances of uterine and ovarian cancer in mother. Most working mothers either leave their job or resume work after maternity leave. Working mothers should have both productive and reproductive right. Working mothers need support, mother friendly workplaces and proper legislative measures to enable them to continue to breast feed after resuming work. There is urgent necessity of child care center at workplaces to ensure the right of mothers and children.