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Story Highlights

  • Employers are being encouraged to be as accommodating as possible in the workplace in assisting lactating mothers who have returned to work, so they can sustain breastfeeding for at least six months, so that their babies can be adequately nourished.
  • Director of Nutrition in the Ministry of Health, Sharmaine Edwards, explained that the Ministry is advocating for a ‘Four S’ approach to support mothers in the workplace.
  • This approach includes sensitization, scheduling, a space for mothers to express breast milk and storage facilities.

Employers are being encouraged to be as accommodating as possible in the workplace in assisting lactating mothers who have returned to work, so they can sustain breastfeeding for at least six months, so that their babies can be adequately nourished.

In an interview with JIS News, Director of Nutrition in the Ministry of Health, Sharmaine Edwards, explained that the Ministry is advocating for a ‘Four S’ approach to support mothers in the workplace, which includes sensitization, scheduling, a space for mothers to express breast milk and storage facilities.

This, she pointed out, is contained in the Draft National Infant and Young Child Feeding Policy.

“The Ministry has developed and reviewed a strategic implementation plan in support of the policy, which is now being reviewed by the senior directors in the ministry for submission to the Cabinet for approval as a White Paper,” she said.

Breastfeeding Week 2015 is being observed from September 20 to 26, under the theme: ‘Breastfeeding and Work, Let’s Make it Work’.

Mrs. Edwards explained that in the four S approach to support mothers in the workplace, the first step is to sensitize all workers to the importance of breastfeeding, so that they can exercise patience and understanding when the women have accidents at work, for example leaking breasts.

According to the Director, another important part of the process is the scheduling of time for mothers to express breast milk.

“We will be encouraging employers to give mothers some time to be able to express breast milk at work.  That needs to be done for at least 20 minutes, so we are saying 30 minutes should be enough time for them to express the milk and get themselves ready once again for work. Twice a day should provide some amount of relief for lactating mothers,” she informed.

Mrs. Edwards said the Ministry will also be advocating for a space to do the exercise, adding that a private corner, a comfortable chair and a desk that provides a surface for the mother to work on, should suffice.

She said that a place to store the expressed milk is the final ‘s’, as it is important for mothers to have somewhere that they can store the milk.

“It does not have to be a refrigerator, because breast milk can remain at room temperature for up to 10 hours, depending on the environmental conditions, but at the very least, somewhere that they can be comfortable that it is in a safe place,” Mrs. Edwards added.