I remember back when my wife delivered our son. She was working for a government high school. Two months after delivering the baby, her boss called her back to work. Her maternal leave ended that way.
Our son had to do with formula milk and it was so such an emotional moment as she left her son to the care of the house nanny.
The government school did not have a place for her to express herself and so she had to find a way to express hidden behind her work desk or go to the bathroom when no one was using it. The school would also not entertain anyone to tag along with their babies because they felt that it would interfere with their working.
However, what I saw from all this, was she dropping in her work morale because she felt that her bosses were not considerate enough to extend her maternity leave or have a concealed private room for expression or allowing employees come with their babies.
As the world celebrates the breastfeeding week, I was curious to look at what Kenya and the ministry of health are doing to have mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for six months after delivery. While there is lots of literature around this and laws that have been passed by Parliament, there is still a lot that needs to be done in terms of implementation.
Having a breastfeeding policy in Kenya but not pushing for the same to be implemented in workplaces helps no one at all. We need to start seeing the government getting proactive about it. Interestingly, even government workplaces do not have the lactation rooms or baby nurseries that the Ministry of Health has called out to.
With that, the Kenyan government lacks the yardstick to push the private sector to have lactation rooms or baby nurseries in their workplaces.
According to the International Labour Organization, workplaces need to have a clear breastfeeding policy that favours the mother and child.
- Breastmilk is the best source of food that a newborn can ever get. No other food can replace this.
- Workplaces should look out for their employees by ensuring the following:
- That the mother gets at least 3 months paid maternity leave
- There is a clearly marked lactation room where mothers can express themselves
- Breastfeeding mothers get an extra 1 hour break per day to express themselves or breastfeed their children.
- Breastfeeding mothers receive proper skilled training and counselling on the pivotal role that breastfeeding plays in a child’s wellbeing.