Women with corporate careers are increasingly finding it difficult to exclusively breastfeed their babies when they return to work after maternity leave.
Most of these women are engaged in work that takes all their time and are forced to rely to milk formulas, cow milk, as an alternative to the most important breast milk that is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the first 6 months of an infant’s life.
Agatha Ayebazibwe found that she could actually breastfeed her baby exclusively, after she started pressing milk and leaving it with a care giver. Her job as a journalist meant that she leaves very early in the morning and returns home late in the evening.
Ayebazibwe says she presses breast milk using a special breast milk pump that can be bought between Ush 50,000 to 160,000 depending on the type and quality. The milk is then kept in a freezer and can last for between 48 to 6 months.
Small quantities of the milk can be removed from the freezer overnight, thawed and warmed to room temperature before the baby is fed at intervals.
But according to Dr. Julius Muron, a Health Consultant on Maternal Health, although the method can be effective in ensuring the infant is exclusively breast feed in the first six months, it could affect the bonding between mother and child which is important in the infants emotional development, and expression of words.
Speaking ahead of the World Breastfeeding week which commences on 1st and ends on 7th August, Ayebazibwe said the milk has to be kept in a highly hygienic and sanitary environment; it may require separating the milk from any other food to avoid contamination.
In addition, one needs special packaging bags or containers that have to be cleaned well before and after use.
Although this method could be favourable to many working mothers, it is still expensive for rural women, and sometimes causes nipple confusion to the baby.
According to Richard Baguma Coordinator at Uganda Health Alliance and the Civil Society Coalition on Scaling up Nutrition – (UCCO-SUN), exclusive breastfeeding is important for both the mother and the baby, but there is still lack of essential support for breastfeeding mothers.
He suggested that public and work places should have baby corners or secluded areas where the mothers can use to press breast milk and preserve for their lactating babies, if they cannot be with the babies throughout the day.