Jumoke Okoya-Thomas is a member of the house of Rep. representing Lagos Island 1 Federal Constituency and she sponsored a bill which called for a more enabling environment to ease exclusive breastfeeding for mothers in the workplace. Proponents of this bill emphasizes on its importance for the health of newborn babies born to working nursing mothers in Nigeria to encourage the highly recommended compliance with exclusive breastfeeding. Specifically, the proposed bill wanted obligatory exclusive breastfeeding for women working in both the public and private sectors.
On the contrary another member, Rep. Friday Itula insisted that it should rather be an issue of advocacy rather than making it binding as a law. A call to vote for a second reading by the Speaker showed a majority of the legislators in opposition, hence the bill was rejected.
Exclusive Breastfeeding is the WHO recommended ideal practice of feeding newborn babies with ONLY breast milk within the first 6 months of life before introducing complimentary foods then.
Breast feeding may be continued up to the child is 2 years of age.
Recall that barely two years ago, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Public Health (Dr. Yewande Adeshina), made news when she revealed plans by the state government to set up crèches in various ministries as part of its strategy to promote exclusive breast feeding. The announcement was made at a press conference briefing held to commemorate the World Breast Feeding Week.
For the records, specific laws governing employees and nursing mothers in the workplace is not new. For instance in the United States, “the law amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 to require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk… The employer must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk.”