Research published in the latest issue of The Lancet Medical Journal has revealed that children who breast feed longer become more intelligent and score higher on IQ tests as adults.
The research also warns that mothers who don’t breast feed expose their children to many dangers some of which have lifelong effects. Babies are supposed to breastfeed after every two to three hours daily in order to keep healthy and get all the required nutrients.
Although statistics show that the majority of mothers in Rwanda breast feed their new born babies exclusively in the first six months, there has been an outcry especially among working mothers who say they are not accorded enough time away from work to breast feed.
Those who choose to stay longer on maternity leave see a certain percentage of their salaries chopped by the employer.
In a story published, in this newspaper yesterday, women interviewed said the time which is allocated for maternity leave by their employers is too short to manage exclusive breast feeding.
They say because of such conditions, they are left with no choice but to feed the babies on supplements like cow milk.
However, the government, through the Ministry of Health, is putting more efforts in promoting breastfeeding as one of the ways to fight malnutrition.
Among these efforts is a country wide sensitisation campaign of employers to help them understand the importance of introducing a breastfeeding room in every workplace. Most workplaces don’t have such facilities for breastfeeding employees.
With the newly passed law on Maternity Leave Benefits Scheme, it is hoped that the challenges should be addressed. With the new law, mothers will be able to take full maternity leave without forfeiting part of their salary.