Breastfeeding working mothers still face obstacles

National 2 minutes, 0 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

DESPITE a growing trend and awareness of breastfeeding in Brunei, more needs to be done to accommodate local working mothers who breastfeed.

In a recent interview with The Brunei Times, Hjh Masni Hj Munir, chairperson of local breastfeeding advocate Hawa, said commercial buildings and workplaces should be made more ‘breastfeeding friendly’ and accessible to cater to the increasing numbers of breastfeeding mothers in the sultanate, especially those who commute.

“For working mothers, sometimes careers can be a barrier to breastfeeding and can be impractical for them. They (leave for work) around 6.30am and get back home after 5pm with a short break during the day of around an hour. These are some of the hindrances,” she said, adding that a long journey to work and odd working hours may cause some working mothers to opt for formula feeding.

According to the preliminary results of a study on the impact of maternity leave regulations, four in every 10 mothers in Brunei with infants or 41 per cent were breastfeeding in 2013, up from 30 per cent in 2011.

The figures were based on a study on the impact of Maternity Leave Regulation 2011 on the practice of exclusive breastfeeding among working women across Brunei.

As of 2011, almost 30 per cent of mothers were found to breastfeed their newborns exclusively in their first six months, while the latest reports indicated a gradual increase in 2012 and 2013.

Hjh Masni said while there is an increase in the trend, many factors still lead women to stop breastfeeding.

She said lack of access to places at work to lactate, embarrassment, lack of family or social support and a lack of knowledge about where to go for help when problems arise are some of the reasons that cause mothers to stop breastfeeding.

“More needs to be done to get the workplace and education system onboard as well as convincing mothers on a personal level that breastfeeding is the healthiest way for their baby,” said Hjh Masni.

She added that through education, mothers can help improve rates of breastfeeding, as it helps reduce infants’ risk of developing chronic conditions.

Hjh Masni highlighted that some of the challenges commuting mothers often face are maintaining their milk supply and having access to comfortable and accessible breastfeeding facilities.

“At the moment, there’s only one mall in Belait District that has a lactation room. I believe not every mall has this, and they should.”

The Brunei Times