…Reveals Working Mothers Starving Newborns Due To Stress
By Alfred Dogbey & Dora Darko
As Africans marks the “World Breastfeeding Week” which will end on Friday, a universal company, Philips Africa has unveiled the reports of the latest research findings with revelations that more women who are working do not sufficient breast milks to their babies, due to stress.
Excerpt of the findings which is contained in a statement copied The Herald has revealed among other reasons the “pressure to work long days in order to make a sufficient income, stressful lives and no space to express milk in the workplace, are all contributing factors to diminished breastfeeding rates”.
The study, which surveyed over 400 working mothers in Ghana and Kenya, also identifies key barriers contributing to the insufficient breastfeeding of newborns, including “unsupportive work environments and cultural influences, and is an outcome of Philips’ pledge to the United Nations “Every Woman Every Child” initiative”.
According to findings, “across board, it was found that mothers know that breastfeeding is the right thing to do. Yet the ability to balance work and motherhood in a busy African city is hard and 52 per cent of the women surveyed had to go back to work within three months, making breastfeeding or expressing difficult”.
The study by Philips, which was keenly supported by research company Dr. Monk, was aimed to discover the key breastfeeding obstacles for working women, both in Ghana and Kenya in order to identify opportunities to support and empower them.
The results said “Limited early initiation of breastfeeding, unsupportive work environments and cultural influences, lack of access to breast milk expression facilities, poor daycare facilities and impeding beliefs were among the challenges identified in the research”.
According to the research, “Although 69 per cent of women surveyed knew the importance of expressing breast milk if unable to breastfeed directly, the biggest barriers for new moms wanting to express included lack of space to express comfortably”.
It also identifies “lack of access to technology like breast pumps, cooling and sterilization equipment and advice and coaching on the correct techniques to breastfeed enabling comfort and ease for both infant and mother”.
The study disclosed that, “Philips will utilize these findings in order to help countries, including Ghana and Kenya, with the healthy development of their infant population”.
The statement noted, “Philips aims to use its rich innovation heritage and baby feeding expertise (through its extensive Philips Avent range) to encourage and empower women to combine going to work with breastfeeding”.
How breastfeeding aids survival
According to the Head of Philips Africa Innovation Hub, Dr. Maarten van Herpen, “In 2013, an estimated 106,000 children died in Kenya and 62,000 in Ghana, with pneumonia and diarrhea being two of the leading causes of death.
He said, “Breastfed babies are fifteen times less likely to die from pneumonia and eleven times less likely to die from diarrhea”.
Dr. Maarten said, “In fact, recent research has found that children in African countries under five who are breastfed have a 14 times greater chance of survival, and any increase in intensity or duration of breastfeeding can help”.
Globally, he said it is estimated that the lives of more than 800,000 children could be saved each year if every child was breastfed.
“No mother should need to choose between earning a living, and giving their child the health benefits that only breastfeeding can provide” Dr. Maarten stated.
He noted that, “At Philips, we have started to develop several innovative ideas that were inspired by the findings in this report. Hopefully, these innovations will prove effective to address some of the challenges to breastfeeding faced by mothers.
As this report shows, the barriers to breastfeeding depend on different situations of different mothers. The issues are diverse – and so is the range of answers needed,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Leith Greenslade, a Vice Chair with the UN Special Envoy for Health who was commenting about the report, said “The vast majority of the 400 Kenyan and Ghanaian mothers surveyed know that breastfeeding is best, and yet, only minority of mothers in both countries who exclusively breastfeed”.
He advised that, “Our ultimate goal should be to create a world where breastfeeding mothers have the freedom to breastfeed, because as the research unequivocally demonstrates, breastfeeding is not just about child survival, it is fundamentally about mother empowerment.”