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Legislation, women, and breastfeeding.

Authors
  • Gibbons, G
Type
Published Article
Journal
MCH news PAC
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1987
Volume
2
Issue
4
Identifiers
PMID: 12281642
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Governmental policies and legislation aimed at validating the dual role of women as mothers and wage earners can significantly strengthen breastfeeding promotion efforts. Examples of such laws and policies are maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks at the workplace, allowances for pregnant women and new mothers, rooming-in at hospitals, child care at the worksite, flexible work schedules for new mothers, and a national marketing code for breastmilk substitutes. The International labor Organization (ILO) has played an important role in setting international standards to protect working mothers. The ILO defines minimal maternity protection as encompassing: a compulsory period of 6 weeks' leave after delivery; entitlement to a further 6 weeks of leave; the provision during maternity leave of benefits sufficient for the full and healthy maintenance of the child; medical care by a qualified midwife or physician; authorization to interrupt work for the purpose of breastfeeding; and protection from dismissal during maternity leave. In many countries there is a lack of public awareness of existing laws or policies; i.e., working women may not know they are entitled to maternity leave, or pediatricians may not know that the government has developed a marketing code for breastmilk substitutes. Overall, the enactment and enforcement of legislation can ensure the longterm effectiveness of breastfeeding promotion by raising the consciousness of individuals and institutions, putting breastfeeding activities in the wider context of support for women's rights, recognizing the dual roles of women, and institutionalizing and legitimating support for breastfeeding.

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