Bengaluru: Breastfeeding may be the healthiest option for babies, but with most companies providing no facilities to allow them to breastfeed their newborns many mothers are forced to quit their jobs to be able to do it.
"I have left my job, but, honestly if there was better infrastructure at my workplace I would probably have not thought of quitting to be with my infant son," says 30-year-old Sakshi Gupta, who worked for a telecommunications company in the city before she quit to take care of her baby.
A recent breastfeeding survey conducted by Medela India, a manufacturer of breast pumps and nursing accessories, has revealed that over 50 per cent of the country’s working women feel their offices do not have facilities to allow them to breastfeed their babies and help them continue to work. The survey, which covered Bengaluru as well, found that while 78 per cent of Indian mothers breastfed their infants for the first six months post-delivery, 54 per cent had to forego their career aspirations in the process.
Says prominent city gynaecologist and fertilityexpert, Dr Kamini A Rao, “Companies are profit sensitive and when women are given a six-month maternity leave it does make them wary of hiring them. What they are actually doing is marginalising an already marginalised lot. However, this can be overcome with a more sensitive approach to women’s needs. Offices should be more conducive to encouraging women to both work and breastfeed."
Suggesting that companies set up of creches in offices to allow women to breastfeed their babies, she notes that in the UK new mothers go to work carrying their babies with them. “Either allow them to work from home or get them to a creche and provide rooms where feeding is possible,” she adds.
Dr Sumana Rao of Apollo Cradle points out that breastfeeding has numerous health benefits for babies as well as their mothers. “It plays a role in making the immune system strong and reduces the risk of non-communicable diseases later in life. Realising its importance in the making of a healthy society, nations like Norway, Japan, Brazil and Peru have put in place several facilities to ensure infants are breastfed for the first six months of their lives.. India has taken the first step through its recently passed maternity bill. Additional measures to make breastfeeding easier for women should follow," she stresses.