by BMSG Editorial Team
#PressforProgress – the hashtag for this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration is a stark reminder that a lot of work remains to be done when it comes to giving women opportunities to live to their best potential in this life.
For breastfeeding mothers and advocates, pressing for progress means fighting the unseen and tangible pressures that surround the breastfeeding community against fulfilling our children’s right for milk.
When we look at how society views breastfeeding, it seems that the difficulty in advocating for it stems from the tension of the multiple hats that women have to wear: wife, daughter, mother, worker. The difficulty in understanding it can be due to the unquantifiable nature of a mother’s desire to breastfeed, and how breastfeeding can sometimes be at odds with our fast-paced way of life. It is the intangible benefits of breastfeeding that perplex most people because they are not immediately obvious to those who are not privy to the breastfeeding relationship between a mother and child.
Some ideas come to mind when we think of what could be done to help the progress of breastfeeding mothers:
- Encouraging policies that allow working mothers to stay at home with paid leave for a longer duration
- Workplace policies that support mothers who pump milk for their babies – incentives for employers, facilities for pumping, as well as permission for the mother to take time off from work to pump
- Childcare facilities being more open to supporting mothers who wish to provide breastmilk for their toddlers and older children
- No harassment or shaming of mothers who breastfeed in public
- Better awareness and education on breastfeeding as a norm
- Excellent postpartum support for mothers that starts right from the hospital; ample opportunities for rooming in and bonding; precise support from lactation consultants and nurses for newborns and mothers; the provision of accurate and evidence-based information for parents to make informed choices
- Reigning in formula milk and baby food marketing in hospitals and healthcare offices, and instead investing in the training of breastfeeding science and support for health personnel
While it may seem a tall mountain to climb, let us not forget that though the efforts may take awhile to move things, any small progress is a reason for success and a possible turning point. In the spirit of IWD, let us also not forget that individually we may not achieve significantly but together we can make great changes, as we have seen in the history books how women have flourished from chapter to chapter.
From all of us at BMSG, Happy International Women’s Day!