Breastfeeding Week is taking place from Monday 2 to Sunday 8 October 2023, and this year, the main focus will be on breastfeeding at work.
Luxembourg’s Ministry of Health, in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), recalled that breastfeeding at work is a right and that it is in the employers’ interest to guarantee conciliation between breastfeeding and work.
In Luxembourg, regulations stipulate that women in full-time employment have the right to request two breastfeeding breaks lasting 45 minutes each per day. These breaks can be combined into a single continuous period if desired. For women working part-time, the duration of the breastfeeding break is determined proportionally based on their actual working hours.
Furthermore, a breastfeeding woman cannot be forced to work at night; this exemption can be extended until the child's first birthday.
The ministry emphasised that breastfeeding has many health benefits for mother and child. It is the way to provide optimal nutrition for the baby’s development, growth and health. Breast milk helps protect infants against infections, reduces the risk of allergies and asthma and has a preventive effect against the development of obesity and diabetes later. Breastfeeding also reduces mothers' risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, as well as the occurrence of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life and the continuation of breastfeeding until the age of 2 years and beyond, gradually accompanied by suitable complementary foods. The Ministry of Health noted it endorses this suggestion and motivates mothers to breastfeed for as long as possible.
If in doubt about breastfeeding, the ministry recommended to discuss the issues with a gynaecologist and/or midwife.
Establishing environments favourable to breastfeeding in professional life has several benefits, according to the ministry. The aim is for breastfeeding woman to feel respected, integrated and valued in her work, which can have a positive impact on her commitment and satisfaction, as well as that of other employees. Employer support facilitates the mother's return to work, which helps reintroduce female employees and increase company productivity. Finally, these support policies strengthen the attractiveness of companies as employers and benefit gender equality. One cannot afford to discriminate against breastfeeding women, the ministry stressed.
An awareness campaign was organised by the Ministry of Health to inform employers and employees about the benefits of breastfeeding and how to implement it in a professional environment.
Since 1987, periodic surveys have been carried out by Luxembourg’s Health Directorate to monitor baby feeding and especially breastfeeding in Luxembourg. Currently in 2023, the sixth ALBA national survey is taking place on the feeding of infants and young children aged 0 to 24 months, residents of Luxembourg. A sample of nearly 6,000 children in this age group is selected and parents will receive a letter inviting them to participate in this ALBA 2023 survey.
The results make it possible to draw up an objective assessment of the evolution of breastfeeding and baby feeding. Participation in this survey is “very important”, the ministry emphasised, because it provides useful information for the development of national policies towards targeted promotion of good practices in infant and young child feeding, in order to protect the health of future generations.
For more information on the survey, send an email to email@example.com.