Mothers need more support amid decline in Indonesia’s breastfeeding rates

UNICEF and WHO appeal for better workplace provisions during World Breastfeeding Week

01 August 2023
A mother breastfeed her baby

Jakarta, August 1, 2023 – With Indonesia’s breastfeeding rates dropping significantly in recent years, UNICEF and WHO are calling for more efforts to protect, promote and support breastfeeding – with a focus on helping mothers in the workforce.

In 2021, less than half of babies in Indonesia (48.6 per cent) were breastfed within the first hour of life, falling from 58.2 per cent in 2018. Only 52.5 per cent were exclusively breastfed in the first six months, which is a sharp decrease from 64.5 per cent in 2018. 

During World Breastfeeding Week, observed August 1-7, UNICEF and WHO are appealing to workplaces to provide greater support for working mothers to continue optimal breastfeeding. Women make up close to 40 per cent of the Indonesia’s workforce.

UNICEF and WHO are calling for workplaces to implement parental, maternal leave and workplace policies that support breastfeeding. They are also urging workplaces to provide sufficient time and appropriate spaces for mothers to breastfeed or to express and store milk.

"Supporting breastfeeding mothers in the workplace is not just an act of compassion – it is an investment in the well-being of both employees and their children,” said Maniza Zaman, UNICEF Indonesia Representative. “When there is an environment that supports and accommodates breastfeeding, women can excel professionally and also take optimal care of their babies, thereby nurturing the future generation.”

“Breastfeeding is a proven way to make babies healthier and help them grow properly. Indonesia’s Labour Law no. 13/2003 supports women's right to breastfeed and ensures they won't lose their jobs because of it. Let's make sure this policy is followed and enforced more strongly,” said WHO Representative Dr N. Paranietharan. “By supporting exclusive breastfeeding everywhere, including at work, we can save newborn lives by preventing deaths caused by low birth weight and prevent stunting in children.”

To better support all breastfeeding mothers, UNICEF and WHO are calling for specific actions by government and stakeholders:

  • Implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding in all maternity facilities. This guide includes informing mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding, training staff to help women breasted and ensuring that mothers and babies stay together 24 hours a day while in hospital.
  • Strengthen links between health facilities and communities to ensure mothers have access to skilled breastfeeding counselling.
  • Strengthen, enforce and monitor legal measures to regulate the marketing of infant formula and other breastmilk substitutes.

Extensive evidence shows that breastfed children have fewer childhood infections and chronic diseases, improved IQ, higher earning potential and more opportunities to prioritize education. Breastfeeding also protects mothers from breast and ovarian cancers and heart disease. It also saves families money as a cost-effective alternative to commercial substitutes. 

Globally, UNICEF and WHO recommend that mothers start breastfeeding within the first hour after birth and exclusively breastfeed their babies during the first six months of their lives.

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Media contacts

Kinanti Pinta Karana
Communications Specialist
UNICEF Indonesia
Tel: +62 8158805842
Bunga Manggiasih
Communication Officer
WHO Indonesia
Tel: +62-811-1064-6998


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