Zim Breast Feeding Mothers To Adopt 6-Months Paid Leave

Parliament is set to adopt the breast feeding standards recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) a policy that will see breastfeeding mothers being given a provision of at least six months paid leave.

The bill is still under review and yet to be presented before the National Assembly.

Chairing the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health this morning, Dr Ruth Labode said about USD$40 million has been set aside by USAID for Zimbabwe to promote breastfeeding and they want to know how its going to be done.

The nutrition Advocacy and Communication Consultant National Nutrition Department in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dexter Changwena encouraged all employers to have lactation rooms to support breastfeeding mothers.

“Choosing how to feed her new baby is one of the important decisions a mother can make in preparing for her infant’s arrival.  Agree that for most women, breastfeeding is the safest and healthiest choice. It is your right to be informed about the benefits of breastfeeding, and to have your health care provider, maternal health care facility, and child day care facility encourage and support breastfeeding. You have the right to make your own choice about breastfeeding,” said Changwena.

Changwena went on to explain how mothers in most workplaces are experiencing difficulties when they have to express their milk in toilets yet it takes less resources to make them feel safe and comfortable.

“It will also help if breast feeding breaks are created to support the breastfeeding mothers,”added Changwena.

Lafarge Clinic in Mabvuku in an industrial area has a lactation room that is meant for breastfeeding mothers and allows mothers to relax and have privacy while expressing milk or feeding their babies.

Recommended period for breastfeeding is 24 months that is two years but most working mothers are forced to cut that short because of work commitments. This is why employers are encouraged to provide lactation rooms and extend paid leaves for breastfeeding mothers.

Dr Labode also encouraged the ministry not to only recommend modern lactation rooms for the urban workplaces but also for rural setups.

Mothers have rights to breastfeed their children in any public or private establishment or place where the mother and child are legally present, without harassment, discrimination or prosecution of any kind with workplaces included.

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