|When a woman marries, her world may change a bit. But when she begins to carry a child in her womb, gives birth and raises her bundle of joy, she enters into a completely different world.
Yes, getting pregnant, experiencing labor and raising a child is a natural thing for women. Yet, when it comes to balancing childcare, especially breastfeeding, with everything else, it takes everyone’s support.
In celebrating World Breastfeeding Week, which falls on Aug.1-7, the Indonesian Breastfeeding Association (AIMI) is calling for support for mothers combining breastfeeding and work.
Whether a woman is working in a formal, informal or home setting, it is the right of both her and her baby that she be allowed to breastfeed.
“Breastfeeding is indeed a natural act. Yet, in this modern and competitive world, breastfeeding mothers, especially the ones who work outside the house, face many challenges.” the AIMI’s chairwoman Mia Sutanto told a press conference in Jakarta recently. “A supportive environment can help a breastfeeding mother fulfil her role. Let’s be part of it,”
Jakarta-based Esther Lastania, 30, admitted that breastfeeding has been a real challenge for her, who works outside of home.
“I do my best to be disciplined in breastfeeding — from giving it directly to my 6-month-old son as much as possible when I’m with him, to pumping milk several times when I’m at the office,” Esther told The Jakarta Post.
She said that her son had had to consume formula to help boost his weight since he was three months old.
“Now, it’s just breast milk and baby food. He’s been free from formula for two weeks now because his weight is ideal,” said Esther, who started to work outside the house when her son was four months old.
Despite the challenges, Esther said that she was grateful for being surrounded by family and friends who were supportive of breastfeeding.
“Most of my colleagues at the office are actually not familiar with breastfeeding mothers, but they’re really sympathetic. For example, I can go take five to pump even when I’m in a meeting,” she said, adding that nevertheless, she has to deal pumping in the restroom because her office doesn’t provide a lactation room.
Meanwhile, in Semarang, Central Java, 31-year-old Anaka Anindya, said that there were things that stressed her out, which affected the quantity of her breast milk for her first son.
“It really hurt when people around me said that I didn’t have enough breast milk for my children,” said Anaka, adding that since she got pregnant she had always planned to exclusively breastfeed her children.
When Anaka’s first son reached two months old, the baby’s weight wasn’t ideal. It led Anaka giving her son breast milk from a donor.
“The donor was my husband’s sister-in-law. I decided to do it because I couldn’t stand the situation — people around me were so noisy about my son’s weight,” said Anaka, a stayed-at-home mother who also works as a freelance English teacher.
So, when Anaka gave birth to her second child, a daughter, she decided to not hear anything negative from the crowd. The lowered stress resulting from this move allowed her to breastfeed her daughter more easily and with enough breast milk.
Another woman, Adisti Daramutia, 31, is a lucky gal when it comes to breastfeeding.
With all the work that she needs to deal with — taking care of her 11-month-old daughter, doing the domestic chores and handling her professional duties — Adisti is blessed with sufficient breast milk.
“Things that challenge me the most come from the work that centers on deadlines. It becomes really tricky when I’m on a deadline, still have no material to work with, but my daughter just wants to be alone with me — that’s tough,” Adisti said with a chuckle.
When things get too hard, all Adisti wants is simply some quick time-off. “My husband has been willing to handle the house so that I can take a few hours of time-off, but I just don’t have the time yet.”
A gentle response to this tricky situation for a breastfeeding mother in the workforce comes from Kokok Herdhianto Dirgantoro, CEO of Opal Communications.
He has initiated six months’ maternity leave for his female employees.
“The purpose is simple. First, I want to take part in creating Indonesia’s golden generation. Giving six months’ maternity leave to female employees means that they will have enough time to exclusively breastfeed their children.
“Second, it’s about the money we will spend on our children’s healthcare. Babies who are breastfed exclusively for six months and receive continued breastfeeding up until two years of age or beyond [with complementary foods], will have better stamina,” said Kokok, adding that he’s working toward a decent lactation room in his office as well as setting up a system that allows female employees with infants to go home early.
In line with Kokok’s initiative, AIMI has also been promoting six months’ maternity leave for female employees.
Ideal food: Exclusive breastfeeding for six months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding until two years of age or beyond.(Kompas.com)
Why breastfeeding matters:
Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. A review of evidence has shown that, on a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up until 2 years of age or beyond.
Breast milk is the natural first food for babies. It provides all the energy and nutrients that infants need for the first months of life, and it continues to provide roughly half of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life.
Breast milk promotes sensory and cognitive development, and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses, such as diarrhea or pneumonia, and helps for a quicker recovery during illness. These benefits were observed in both resource-poor and affluent societies in a 2001 study led by Michael Kramer and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (ed. 2001, 285-4).
Breastfeeding contributes to the health and wellbeing of mothers; it helps mother-baby bonding, reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer, frees up family and national resources, is a hygienic way of feeding and is safe for the environment.
To enable mothers to establish and sustain exclusive breastfeeding for six months, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF recommend:
- Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of a baby’s life
- Exclusive breastfeeding — that is the infant receives only breast milk, without any additional food or drink,
not even water
- Breastfeeding on demand — that is as often as the child wants, day and night
- No use of bottles, teats or pacifiers
Source: World Health Organization
- See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/08/05/world-breastfeeding-week-the-extra-miles-breastfeeding.html#sthash.huBsPRDw.dpuf