A mother-of-two and 'breast is best' advocate has shared her experiences of breastfeeding discrimination, as she urged businesses to share their facilities with mums who would not otherwise have access.
Raluca Kovacs says the move would not only benefit mothers and their growing babies' health and wellbeing, but would be positive for the whole island community as a result of more dedicated employees and less absenteeism.
The breastfeeding champion's calls in support of the idea, which was launched by Social Security Minister Deputy Judy Martin last week, come ahead of the publication of the new Draft Employment Law this autumn, which is expected to feature legislative measures designed to help mums breastfeed for as long as they choose.
Deputy Martin said that the government was looking to identify suitable buildings for breastfeeding facilities, and appealed to all local businesses and the Parishes to share amenities with their neighbours in the meantime.
“I am very aware that for some businesses, having a facility for women to either breastfeed or express milk and refrigerate it, provides a significant challenge,” she explained.
“Therefore, I want to help businesses to prepare for the proposed changes coming into force by collating a list of breastfeeding facilities that businesses and Parishes are happy to share. I believe this will make it easier for smaller businesses to recruit and retain new mothers in their workforce.”
Pictured: Deputy Judy Martin's new Employment Law aims to give breast-feeding mothers more protection.
Racula - a mother of two girls, the youngest of which is two and a half - welcomed the move, describing it as a “really great initiative.”
Describing her own breastfeeding-at-work journey, Racula explained that her employer - a local bank - did not have dedicated facilities.
However, the bank was highly supportive and gave her access to the staff canteen or private offices when she returned from maternity leave, which she said made “a huge difference.”
Explaining how the simple adjustment and understanding of her employer made "a huge difference", she told Express: “It helped to make returning to work a positive experience and meant I’ve been able to give my children the best start in life. It gave me a lot of confidence to continue breastfeeding.”
Pictured: Raluca said the support of her employer while she continued to breastfeed at work made a huge difference.
Raluca said that breastfeeding is very important for babies and that not always a choice for the mum - something that employers and society as a whole need to understand.
“We are doing what is best for the children,” she said. “If you stop breastfeeding at work, your supply will drop and will not be enough for the baby’s needs. There are also health and safety issues if you don’t continue because you can get blocked ducts, mastitis and other complications.”
According to Racula, supporting breastfeeding mums is in the interest of everyone - not just the babies, who will get an immunity boost. “If we want to breastfeed and we can’t do it when we return to work, then we would be staying longer at home,” she explained.
“Supporting mums is for the benefit of everyone, baby, mum and the employer, who will get more dedicated employees and less absenteeism. Happy mum, happy children, happy community!”
Pictured: Businesses are being encouraged to share their breastfeeding facilities with those who don't have enough space.
Acknowledging that some businesses might find it hard to accommodate the space needed for mums, Raluca said she hopes businesses who have that space will agree to make their facilities available “to ensure that all mums in Jersey can have the option to continue feeding for as long as they wish.”
Outside of work, mothers are entitled by law to breastfeed wherever they choose, but some - including Raluca - have reported feeling more welcome at some venues than others.
The mother-of-two said that she felt uncomfortable whilst breastfeeding her first child, seven years ago. “People sexualise breasts more than they should, but the normal use of a breast is to feed a baby... I did get some evil looks and I could feel they were directed at me.”
“There was one very upsetting time at the GP,” she added. “My baby was six months old and she needed a feed. I went to breastfeed but the GP asked, ‘Could you leave it 'til you are outside? I was very uncomfortable.”
Pictured: Deputy Martin wants to list the cafés, restaurants, shops and/or other spaces that encourage mothers to breastfeed on their premises.
While she says the situation has improved since then, Raluca, who has since joined the Breastfeeding Working Group to share her experience as a mum, says she does not mind the looks anymore as she feels more confident.
“I know I’m doing what’s best for my baby," she said.
Raluca has therefore welcomed Social Security's idea of listing the cafés, restaurants, shops and/or other spaces that encourage mothers to breastfeed on their premises.
As well as serving local mothers, it is hoped the list will prove useful for mothers on holiday in Jersey.
Are you a business with amenities for breastfeeding? Would you be happy to share facilities with working mothers from nearby businesses who wish to feed their babies/express & refrigerate their milk? Please complete our short survey: https://t.co/QYERPtJwLa pic.twitter.com/y0Qtjp99ph— Government of Jersey (@GovJersey) August 28, 2019
Businesses happy to share their facilities with mums who wish to feed their babies and refrigerate their milk can apply to become part of the list by clicking HERE.
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