By Prince Osuagwu
Chief Executive Officer of mom and baby care company, Mothersbond Limited, Mr Michael Osuji, has said that government’s recent approval of 30 days extension to the three months maternity leave is commendable but still falls short of appropriate recommendation.
According to Osuji, government should still look into the six months maternity leave recommended by several health bodies and medical experts, if Nigeria has hopes of having healthy children.
He said that exclusive breastfeeding of babies in the first six months helps them balance physically, mentally and emotionally, even as it gives them the best start in life.
He, however, said that this commendable gesture may not serve a better purpose if government did not ensure that private sector employers also complied accordingly.
The Federal Government recently announced the extension of maternity leave from 90 days to 120 days to further strengthen the bond between nursing mothers and their newly born babies.
Osuji said: “While this is a huge step in the right direction, we would continue to engage with the relevant stakeholders in government, health care experts and the media to push for at least six months fully paid maternity leave. The underlying goal of this is to ensure that newly born babies have no hindrance to exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months which helps them have the best start in life, physically, mentally and emotionally.”
He, however, advised mothers to augment the length of exclusive breastfeeding with sustain breastfeeding pumps, even after the four months maternity leave.
“Mothers can still do exclusive breastfeeding beyond the four months maternity leave, through breastfeeding pumps, which can be used to appropriately express and store breast milk, for caregivers to feed babies with, when they are hungry.
Many women in Nigeria don’t know how useful breast milk pumps are.
It helps to ensure the chain of exclusive breastfeeding is not broken for the first six months and even subsequently,” he added.