Breast milk is critical for proper development of an infant during the first two years of life. The increased rate of women’s participation in the labour force has resulted in a ‘double work day’ which results in a burden of having to accomplish both reproductive and productive roles. The Employment Act 2006, maternity leave is 12 weeks. This is insufficient as it’s below recommended 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding thus maternity protection is left to the discretion of the employer and breastfeeding working mothers.Method
A mixed study design using both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis methods was used.Results
232 questionnaires were administered to working mothers attending ‘postnatal clinics. 23 KI guides were administered to key decision managers purposively selected from 23 institutions where primary respondents worked. Whereas 224 (96.5%) were granted maternity leave a proportion of 8 (3.5%) were not granted maternity leave. During day time, on demand breastfeeding (over 10 times) was practiced by 225 (97%) respondents before resuming full time work. This reduced drastically on resuming full time work to half (between 5 to 7 times during the day) for those in self-employed and service sectors and only twice for those in Government Ministries, Departments, Agencies, NGO, Schools and banks. 53 (22.8%) breastfed their babies at workplace of these 46 (86.8%) said that the babies were simply laid within working station not designated as a workplace day care centre.Discussion
Whereas we continue to advocate for exclusive breastfeeding, we need to consider the effect of productive roles experienced by working mothers who resume work before their babies are 6 months thus interrupt breastfeeding pattern. Work places in informal and formal sectors had no provisions for nursing mothers to care for their babies nor express their breast milk.