August 1-7 marks World Breastfeeding Week, an annual campaign set up by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). This year’s theme by WABA calls for concerted global action to empower and support all women, working in both the formal and informal sectors, to adequately combine work with child-rearing, particularly breastfeeding.
To mark the important event, the Community Relations and Development section at Sidra in partnership with lactation specialists share tips and an infographic for mothers heading back to work after their maternity leave. The infographic can be downloaded here from the Sidra website (www.sidra.org).
The Sidra team is conducting a local survey amongst mothers working in Qatar to gauge current levels of understanding about breastfeeding and balancing breastfeeding and work responsibilities. Sidra will be sharing important tips related to breastfeeding and guidelines for the safe use of medications during lactation via its social media channels and website. A series of workshops for mothers, medical and nursing students are also being planned for September.
“Many mothers, who go back to work after having a baby, may worry about juggling being at work and breastfeeding. This is why it is helpful to be a part of a network of family, friends and colleagues who can help support you as you start your breastfeeding journey as a working mother,” said Eman Nasralla, Manager of Community Relations and Development at Sidra Medical and Research Center. “While there is a lot of information out there from healthcare providers about the benefits of breastfeeding – to truly help mothers transition back into the workforce, it is crucial for employers to be a part of the discussion. Through HR policies and supportive practices in the workplace, measures can be put in place to support employed women to continue breastfeeding.”
Key tips for mothers who are preparing to return to work:
- If you don’t have someone to take care of your child at home while you are at work, select a childcare provider who is close to your workplace and is supportive of your commitment to breastfeeding. Questions you should ask – do they have facilities to store breast milk? Are they comfortable handling breast milk? Would they be happy for you to drop by and feed your baby at any time?
- Ask your employer or college for flexible working hours that are arranged around your breastfeeding needs. Talk to them about your plans before you return to work.
- Know your rights as a breastfeeding mother. All HR departments should have a policy, therefore please ask to see it. Here in Qatar, it is by law that: ‘The breastfeeding working woman shall have the right to choose a daily breastfeeding hour for one year, this starts from the end of the delivery leave in addition to her right of a rest period provided for in article (73) of this law. The breastfeeding period is a part of the working time and doesn’t reduce the wage’.
- Select an appropriate pump which will empty your breasts quickly and efficiently. The pump can be manual or electric, depending on your preference.
- Consider freezing some of your milk before you return to work.
- Do a ‘trial run’ the week before you return to work. Leave the baby with the caregiver and go to wherever you will be pumping. This will give you a chance to scope out the situation. It helps to actually develop a plan regarding when and where you will pump. If you know of any other women in your workplace who have pumped milk for their babies – talk to them about how they solved any challenges they encountered.
Daily tips for the working breastfeeding mother:
- Find a private place to express (speak to HR or your supervisor to establish room availability)
- Arrange breaks at regular intervals (ideally, about every three hours) to have time to express your breast milk.
- Express mid-morning, lunch and afternoon. Allow at least 20-30 minutes for each session.
- Eat nutritious meals and healthy snacks.
- Aim to drink at least three liters of water per day.
- Breastfeed your child in the morning prior to going to work and as soon as you get home.
- Breastfeed full-time when not at work.
For more information, please visit www.sidra.org where along with a downloadable version of the infographic, weekly blogs dedicated to breastfeeding will be posted.