‘Mothers must ask for breastfeeding facilities’

National 1 minute, 40 seconds


WORKING mothers should negotiate with their employers for breastfeeding facilities, urged a health professional from the Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC).

Dr Kavitha Ponnusamy Gundugola, an obstetrics and gynaecology consultant, said lack of appropriate facilities for breastfeeding is one of the main challenges faced by lactating mothers when they return to the workplace after maternity leave.

“Sometimes it doesn’t even strike them to talk to their employers about it,” she said, highlighting the need to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding facilities in the workplace.

She advised working mothers to explain to her employers and colleagues why breastfeeding facilities are necessary, noting that many people are unaware lactating mothers need to express breast milk multiple times throughout the day.

“Employers can work something out. Maybe they can provide a small, private area and put a sign outside the door so male colleagues do not enter the room,” said Dr Gundugola.

 However, she stressed that the bathroom is not a suitable alternative over a designated room for breastfeeding. She deemed the bathroom as inappropriate for breastfeeding due to the risk of infection and lack of privacy.

 “There’s no clean tabletop and the washing area may be full of germs. The woman has to explain she can’t pump in the bathroom,” she said.

 In addition to the provision of breastfeeding facilities, Dr Gundugola said lactating mothers should make arrangements with colleagues to help cover or substitute in their brief absence during breastfeeding times.

 “Employers should also get adequate staffing if they know the mother is going to be breastfeeding. They can look into employing more staff to cover or substitute if required,” she added.

 As the government moves towards making exclusive breastfeeding a priority, she noted that employers must be encouraged to accommodate lactating women and support their staff’s decision to continue breastfeeding.

 “It would be good for each company or organisation to devise its own breastfeeding policy with the support of the government,” said Dr Gundugola.

 The Brunei Times