To facilitate the breastfeeding of infants, working mothers should be given six months to a year of fully paid maternity leave from their employers, a senior doctor at Hamad Medical Corp. has said.
Dr. Ahmad Al Hammad, HMC’s head of general pediatrics, told Al Sharq that extending paid leave from the current two months to a full year may result in a higher cost for employers in the short term, but would benefit the country later on.
“In the long term, it will help reduce the number of cases suffered by adults as a result of feeding problems. This in turn will contribute to reducing the size of spending on the health care needed by these people and to addressing the lack of productivity caused by their absence from work,” he said.
To counter a decades-long declining trend in breastfeeding in Qatar, the country’s medical experts began a renewed push to help facilitate nursing among new mothers.
In 2010, hospitals launched the “Say yes to breastfeeding initiative” to promote, protect and support the practice, with an emphasis on the health benefits to the baby. In addition to classes and lectures, a lactation management clinic was established to help mothers with nursing woes.
Additionally, the University of Calgary – Qatar last year received $60,000 in funding from the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) to explore and improve breastfeeding practices here.
Qatar’s labor law gives women up to 15 days of paid leave before delivery, and 35 days of paid leave after birth, provided the employee has worked at a company for a full year.
New mothers are also allowed one hour each workday of “nursing time” for the first year of the baby’s life.
Do you think that leave should be extended? Thoughts?