Assisting working moms who breastfeed
New mothers at the North-West University (NWU) returning from maternity leave will no longer have to struggle to find a place to express their breastmilk. With August being Breastfeeding Awareness Month, the NWU has officially opened its first breastfeeding room on the campus in Potchefstroom.
The breastfeeding room, called Made for Moms, is a safe and private space where NWU employees can go and express milk during working hours.
The compact yet comfortable room is equipped with chairs, a wash basin and a designated parking bay. It is located at Lipid Metabolic Clinic, building G17, and is big enough to accommodate three women at a time.
How Made for Moms came about
Mrs Chantell Witten, founder of Made for Moms, is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the campus. She initiated the idea of the breastfeeding room in 2016 after her students conducted a survey on the Code of Good Practice on the Protection of Employees during Pregnancy and after the Birth of a Child.
The code states that arrangements should be made for employees who are breastfeeding to have breaks of 30 minutes twice a day to breastfeed or express milk for the first six months of the child's life.
A lecturer on the NWU’s campus in Potchefstroom, who wanted to remain anonymous, says she is extremely excited about the breastfeeding room.
“I share an office with a colleague so I could not express in our office; and even if the door was closed, I found that students and colleagues could just walk in. After coming back from maternity leave I found myself driving home at least twice a day to go express milk in the privacy of my own house,” says the new mother.
Benefits of breastfeeding
According to Chantell, women who do not express milk within certain timeframes are more likely to suffer from mastitis, a condition which causes a woman's breast tissue to become painful and inflamed; in some cases the breastmilk can become infected with bacteria.
She adds that the reason this room is so important is that breastmilk has a great impact on the future of children.
Says Chantell: “I would like to thank the Faculty of Health Science’s dean, Prof Awie Kotze, who has supported this initiative from the beginning, as well as Prof Marius Smuts, director of the Centre of Excellence and Nutrition, and Sister Chrissie Lessing, a nurse at the Lipid Clinic for their support. We are also urging other faculties to get breastfeeding rooms for their staff.”
Benefits of breastfeeding:
• Babies who have been breastfed are less likely to get sick, die or suffer from malnutrition.
• Babies who are breastfed experience better brain cell development.
• Adults who have been breastfed as infants are less likely to suffer from mental disorders.