Maternity leave makes bond of newborn with mother stronger
Until August 7 (Monday) is “World Breastfeeding Week” since 1992 a year after the World Alliance Breastfeeding Action (WABA) was organised on February 14, 1991. It is imperative that everyone actively provide all the encouragement, support and logistics to all women who may become expectant and nursing mothers.
Numerous local to international studies have proved that breast milk is the most nutritious first food for infants and children up to age three. One is from the UK called the “Millennium Cohort Study,” which demonstrates that “for every 2,000 formula-fed babies, just under four would be hospitalised for diarrhoea in the first eight months, compared to one per 2,000 among exclusively breastfed babies; for chest infection, 10 per 2,000 formula-fed babies would be hospitalised, compared to six per 2,000 among breastfed babies.”
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also has shown that the success of eight of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals has to do with breastfeeding:
•“A study on breastfeeding indicated that interventions such as maternity leave, workplace support and employment status of mothers led to a 30 per cent increase in breastfeeding rates.”
•Quality education is ensured as “breastfeeding is associated with increased IQ of three to four points, greater cognitive ability can lead to better learning outcomes.”
•Breastfeeding is free. The Earth is free from all the environmental degradation arising from the production of milk formula.
Three repeat nursing mothers were interviewed on their coping. They were also asked on whether the 60-day maternity leave must be prolonged as the 2023 theme is “Let’s Make Breastfeeding and Work, Work!”
Wadiah Irshad Humam is grateful for the Aster Nature Programme of the Aster Hospital (Al Qusais). It helped her first and foremost in her issues of “improper latch and nipple cracks. I encourage all moms, particularly the working mothers who may think they do not have enough time to express their milk and feed their babies, to prioritise and get educated on their pre-natal and post-natal period so that they can psychologically tackle the situations on their own; although they need all the moral support.”
The working mother said extending the maternity leave to 90 days shall be more beneficial for both mother and baby. She cited the significance of bonding and ample time for recovery from the pregnancy and delivery.
A housewife in Sharjah gave birth to her second boy one month back. Breastfeeding is the “natural route for her,” being “the norm” in India. She “is convinced of the benefits to the baby like better immunity and healthy weight gain.” Though she initially used formula for her first until the repetitious “washing and sterilising of bottles got the better of me.”
She added: “With breastfeeding, I always have food on the go for my baby. It was hard for me and my first-born initially as breastfeeding did not come easily for him but I am glad we put in the work.”
Thankful for having other caring women aside from her visiting parents, her obstetrician-gynaecologist and her lactation consultant at Welcare Hospital (Dubai), she also said: “As of now, the 60-day leave does not make a difference to me. But, it definitely seems too short.”
Aster Hospital (Mankhool) patient Mutashreen Fathima said a 120-day maternity leave “allows mothers like me to balance both motherhood and our careers effectively.”
Prime Medical Center (Motor City) Paediatrics specialist/Certified Breastfeeding consultant Dr. Meenakshi Sesama and Medcare Women & Children Hospital (Dubai) Paediatrics specialist Dr. Siddharth Arora cited the requirement for the exclusive breastfeeding of babies until six months.
Arora said: “The 60 days fall woefully short of meeting the needs of the babies. To substantiate the benefits, conducting comprehensive, long-term public studies is essential as healthier children and mentally robust adults can effectively reduce over-all national healthcare spending, compensating for any additional lost man-hours during the extended maternity break.”
Sesama said breastfeeding and work altogether could be “successfully done” by both career women and homemakers especially if they were “motivated” and if assistance by their loved ones and those who care abound.