Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, President, Women Arise for Change Initiative, has urged the Federal Government and other states to emulate Lagos State by extending maternity leave.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, Okei-Odumakin said the extension of maternity leave to six months by Lagos State would allow nursing mothers to breastfeed exclusively.
She, nonetheless, advocated for paternity leave to allow the fathers to give adequate family bonding and involvement in childcare activities.
“I have always insisted that the three months maternity leave is very inadequate considering all that the mothers need to do to ensure care and safety of the babies.
“Most times, the mother hurried to resume work at the time the baby needs her most; but with this new arrangement, the mother has enough time to take care of the baby.
“The father also needs the leave to stay with his family and give them the necessary attention,’’ she said.
Also speaking in a separate interview, Dr Bunmi Ogundimu, Project Director, Colostrum International, said exclusive breastfeeding was key to the survival of the child.
She said the six months maternity leave for nursing mothers would allow them to practise exclusive breastfeeding.
“The infant mortality rate in Nigeria is on the high side with 88.4 in every 1000 births, six months exclusive breastfeeding can bring this down and save our leaders of tomorrow.
“It is nature’s way of ensuring the survival of the child and ensures that he grows into healthy adulthood,’’ she said.
In his view, Dr Oscar Odiboh, Founder, Afribaby Initiative, said that the paternity leave would allow fathers to spend significant time with their babies.
Odiboh said it would also help them to get involved in childcare activities such as helping a baby to eat and encouraging their wives to breastfeed exclusively.
“It is a period to allow fathers bond with their babies and care for their needs; it will also foster bonding between father and mother as they will be sharing the care of the babies,’’ he said.
In view of these observations, Prof. Ifeoma Okoye, Founder, Breast without Spot Initiative, therefore, urged the Federal Government and other states to emulate Lagos State.
According to her, breast milk cannot be adequately replaced by any other food, including infant formulae. (NAN)
On July 17, Lagos State Government introduced 10-day paternity leave for male civil servants and extended maternity leave for female workers to six months. (NAN)