NMB breastfeeding staff rejoice as lactation room dawns at workplace By ANNE ROBI BEAMING with enthusiasm, it was a joyful moment when NMB bank female staff were finally presented with a lactation room at the institution, where they can breast feed their babies and resume duties during working hours.
For many years just like many other Tanzanian working and breastfeeding mothers, have been struggling to manage work demand and breastfeed their babies at interval, but in vain.
“We are delighted now to have a nursing room at our workplace, this is a very important step towards balancing work requirements and breastfeeding,” said Josina Njambi, the bank’s employee, who happened to be also a breastfeeding mother.
Ms Njambi, who is an Innovation Manager and a mother of three, said she used to struggle to balance work and breastfeed in her car parked outside, but with the new arrangement, the room is very supportive.
“It was not easy initially because I had to pump milk in a bottle and go sit in my car, or use a room like a store, cleaner’s room or boardroom to feed my baby,” she added.
Despite using an unfriendly environment to pump-milk, Ms Njambi had to struggle to find a place to keep the milk while waiting for the baby to be brought to her.
But with all the necessities at the newly established lactation room, Ms Njambi among other nursing moms at the bank, would now be able to pump and preserve milk waiting to feed or physically breastfeed at interval and work.
For Ms Grace Shimboka an expectant mother working with the bank, it was: “I might say that I’ am the luckiest, because I will not go the same ordeal like my fellow women who had been breastfeeding in unfriendly environment, because now we have a lactation room.”
The female staff at the bank are among some million others globally, who had to resume work soon after delivering to continue supporting national policies and legislation such as paid maternity leave and breastfeeding.
But due to work pressure and requirements, most women working in the informal, seasonal or part-time economy, find themselves when it comes to breastfeeding, hence the bank’s move to establish them.
Speaking during the launching ceremony of the lactation room at the NMB headquarters in Dar es Salaam recently, NMB Women Arise Network Chairperson, Ms Linda Tegisa, said the establishment was welcome both professionally and on humanitarian grounds.
“We are very grateful to the management of the bank for setting up the initiative to support women especially those with babies,” she said adding, that the move expresses strong commitment of the employer to support women and seeing into that they do not miss the workplace. She said providing the support was the management care and love to the staff which go along to their families.
She said that the move in a way stimulates economic growth because it provides the female staff with opportunity to work which lead to increased productivity, job satisfaction and loyalty.
However, Ms Tegisa urged other financial institutions and other employers to establish at their workplaces for such nursing and lactation rooms enable female working staff to deliver at work and also ‘run’ families at the background.
“Many working mothers face many challenges when it comes to balancing breastfeeding and tackling their job requirements…having a lactation room at the workplace is an important initiative to break the challenges,” she said.
According to Ms Tegisa, establishment of the room at the Bank’s headquarter was a longtime dream of the female staff at the bank, and finally it became a reality.
“It took us (Women Arise Network at the bank), to have the lactation room, as we had to convince our employer on why we really needed the room,” she said.
She said plans are still underway to ensure that such rooms (Lactation rooms), are established at the bank’s branches countrywide in order to enable female lactating staff breastfeed their babies and work.
She said that the established room has all the necessities a lactating mother would require, ranging from milk pumping equipment to milk storage.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO), recommends feeding babies on breast milk exclusively for the first six months of their lives. This means babies should only feed on breast milk and nothing else.
The organisation says that breast-milk is the natural first food for babies, and it provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life.
It continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life.
Breast-milk promotes sensory and cognitive development and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases.
Exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea or pneumonia, and helps for a quicker recovery during illness.
It also contributes to the health and well-being of mothers, it helps to space children, reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer, increases family and national resources, is a secure way of feeding and is safe for the environment.
According to 2016 Demographic Health Survey, Tanzania has made progress by getting 59.2 per cent number of children who breastfeed with further reports suggesting that breastfeeding saves 823,000 deaths among children under five annually.
On other hand, UNICEF is working to support national governments in making the world a friendlier place for all mothers who wish to breastfeed