Sidra survey highlights employer support for working mothers
December 27 2015 09:56 PM
Sidra Medical and Research Center
Sidra Medical and Research Center

More than 50% of the mothers in Qatar stopped breastfeeding their children as they had to return to work, according to a survey by Sidra Medical and Research Center (Sidra).

Another 39 % of the survey respondents stated that they didn’t have the time to breastfeed regularly due to busy work schedules. Over 50 % found it difficult to work and maintain breastfeeding particularly due to lack of facilities within the workplace.

Sidra announced yesterday the results of the survey conducted to identify the challenges faced by breastfeeding mothers particularly those returning to work.

The survey polled 467 mothers, both nationals and expatriates working in private and government sectors.

Another point to come out of the survey was that the majority of the mothers felt that while the one-hour reduction in working hours was beneficial, the time was not sufficient to breastfeed - particularly if they had a heavy workload.

Another finding from the survey was that over 90% of women indicated that they were aware of the importance of breastfeeding –with more than 50 % stating that they breastfed because it was beneficial for the child and the mother.

Qatar labour law states that the maternity leave should be 50 working days and mothers can leave their workplace an hour early for a period of up to one year.

Stress at work or not being able to feed their babies on time was another factor that prevented these mothers from wanting to continue breastfeeding – as they believed it affected milk flow.

Eman Nasralla, community relations and development manager, Sidra said: “Our survey was developed to support a pledge that Sidra had undertaken in recognition of World Breastfeeding Week.

''We wanted to get a better understanding of some of the challenges faced by breastfeeding mothers going back to work in Qatar and whether these challenges lead to reducing or stopping breastfeeding all together. We also wanted to identify the measures that we as an employer needed to consider in order to make the transition back to workplace smoother for our working mothers.”

The survey also has given several recommendations such as reducing the working day by up to three hours or providing more flexible schedules. This would allow enough time for mothers to either come in later or leave work earlier so that they can maintain regular breastfeeding and increased bonding time with their babies.

It also suggests enabling work from home a few days a week; having nurseries within or very close to the workplace – allowing the mothers easier and faster access to their babies during feed times and an opportunity to bond with their babies as often as possible; providing an appropriate room to breastfeed or pump as well as access to amenities to safely store breast milk and the option of extending maternity leave up to one year.

The research was conducted by Survey Monkey and shared with more than 13 major government and private institutions across Qatar.

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