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I woke up this morning to an invitation by Change.Org to collect signatures for a petition enticing all government entities in the Dominican Republic to have Breastfeeding rooms...

Thinking of it , wherever I have been, all around the world, I have seldom seen them! And actually I was not breastfed when I was a baby because of medical problems... So I never really thought about it. In a quest of transparency, I was wondering what would the pros and the cons for such an initiative be.

I mean, Companies might see it as an expense, but worth the effort for image purposes. But what if it was something that could bring also return on investment, wouldn't that be easier to convince them with?

Two years ago, I was travelling with a colleague, and she was breastfeeding. I found her pretty courageous to go through such an effort, to bring the bottles and the whole pumping system with her, in her carry-on, then explain to the not always smiling Custom's Officer that it was dairy and thus allowed to transit with her. Every time it was a new struggle. Hotels were not even prepared to welcome this accordingly, they did not have the facilities, or even an adequate fridge to store the milk in. I realized then, that it was a struggle shared by many women, working women worried by the health of their children.

Asking around it was clear, that it was a struggle, a nightmare even, at least a huge sacrifice working mum were not always willing to do because of the huge ordeal they would have to go through.

So first lets speak about the benefits: children's health!

I always heard that breastfeeding helped the immune defense system. But now reading an article of the The Lancet Global Health, a study by Brazilians expert reveals that children that were breastfed during a year (yes a year, not just the 6th month), had in average an IQ 20% higher than those that had only been breastfed for 1 month. So the duration of breastfeeding is an important factor.

Lets speak now about the mother... I mean she is the one that is important to the Company, and who's well-being the Company might want to take care of. Mothers that are breastfeeding, will have a calories consumption higher by 500 cal a day, than those that are not. This will help the mothers return to her previous weight. It helps also preventing Diabetes and Hypertension, as well as lowers the levels of stress.

On the contrary if its difficult for women to get a place where to breastfeed correctly, when they have decided to. Imagine how their stress levels skyrockets when they have to find everyday a solution to breastfeed, and still keep working. Where to go?

Hygiene is one of the factors, and why bathroom - their current usual place to breast feed - is not correct. And once again, what happens afterwards? Where can Mothers stock the milk to take it home later? The lunch box is not an alternative.

Both in time and in hygiene, Companies might think that it will help be more efficient for them to invest in a Breastfeeding Room. Not to speak of the positive image and as a result the attraction to retain valuable workforce in their company.

According to UNICEF :

Breastfeeding benefits children: Lowers infectious morbidity and mortality,

reduces dental malocclusions, and leads to higher intelligence and increased bonding.

Breastfeeding benefits mothers: Can prevent breast cancer, improve birth spacing and might reduce risk of diabetes, overweight and ovarian cancer.

Breastfeeding benefits the nation: Can boost economic development of a nation through enhanced cognitive capital and alleviate burden and cost of diseases originating in childhood.

The realities are the following: the rate of breastfeeding in the Dominican Republic is the lowest of the entire region, only 14.4 % are (Stats by Unicef ), in comparison of more than 37%; and its still decreasing[ in comparison China's rate is of 20%].

UNICEF is committed to work with China to meet the country’s nutrition target to increase the exclusive breastfeeding rate for children under six months of age to 50% by 2020, as stated in the “China’s Children Development Plan”.

Research has predicted that with such an increase in the exclusive breastfeeding rate, a reduction in mortality of 5% (from 10·7 per 1000 to 10·17 per 1000) among children under 5 years of age and 19,323 (11 266–22 530) fewer deaths will be experienced in China.

It is not difficult to understand that the same applies to any country taking this initiative.

And in all my argumentation, there was not even once mention of the psychological benefits of breast feeding and the unique bonding between mothers and children.

It seems we might have more to loose if we do not, and in any case it will be a rewarding investment for all corporate and government entities.

So tell me, are we going to help women breastfeed or not?

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