A study on breastfeeding knowledge and practices of working mothers in the informal economy in New Delhi has shown that six months of exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) was difficult as 38% of mothers returned to work under three months of delivery and 60% within six months of delivery, leading to early weaning.
The study conducted by researchers from the Indian Institute for Human Settlements interviewed 150 mothers, including domestic workers, vendors, home-based and “barter” working mothers, out of which 79% were breastfeeding.
Four sites covered
Of the 21 women, who had a child under six months, 14 reported exclusive breastfeeding. The study was conducted in four sites in Delhi where the predominant employment is in the informal economy.
The study found that while deciding to take one’s child to work, there was an overall hesitation to carry a child under 12 months to work, fearing infection, need for mother’s attention, and disruption at work.
Work and duty
“Only 37% of the sampled population reported taking their child to work regularly or often, of which 59% were working from their home,” the study said.
It also found that local creches, run by the government, were not equipped to admit children under 12 months, and mostly preferred children over two years.
The pathways for intervention suggested by the study include delayed return to work, increased spatial and temporal proximity of a mother with her child, effective knowledge and deeper understanding of the reasoning and implications behind the six-month exclusive breastfeeding recommendation and enabling the physical environment at home and workplace to the needs of a mother for managing child care.