Can you imagine a place in the world where government puts laws in place to encourage women to breastfeed longer than they currently do in the region?
This is becoming a reality in one of the worlds most populated countries. Indonesia, with 250 million people and one of the most disaster prone countries has started working on laws that would not only encourage breastfeeding longer for mothers, but help ensure babies in the region are safe from illness often passed through dirty water supplies.
The Indonesian government has therefore passed a law which stipulates that all babies should be breastfed exclusively for six months. A fine of up to 100 million rupiah (11,000 dollars) can be imposed next year on any person or organization which stops a mother from doing this.
Laws that people even in the United States think women would benefit from. Including the head of a large scale breastfeeding advocacy group.
Bettina Forbes from Best for Babes said :
What strikes me as key about the Indonesian breastfeeding law as you describe it below, is that it seems like it intends to put pressure on the “booby traps”–cultural and institutional barriers that keep moms from achieving their breastfeeding goals–and not on moms. Moms don’t need more pressure, what they need is to not be undermined by organizations that violate the WHO Code. I hope we can interpret this as Indonesia holding companies that violate the WHO Code strictly accountable for negatively impacting the health of mothers and babies. I hope it means that all hospitals and birthing centers in Indonesia will become designated Baby Friendly.
Traditionally in Indonesia women have exclusively breastfed children, but the recent numbers are falling with more mothers going to work. Between 2006 and 2008 their breastfeeding rates dropped a full 10% across the country. Despite the current law giving all women three months of paid maternity leave most feel pressured to go back to work sooner for fear of losing their job. Sounds familiar to our country!
According to the Ministry of Health, the new law will also bring tighter regulations over companies supplying formula milk. Producers will not be allowed to offer any incentives which encourage mothers to switch to their milk products in the first six months. (There is an International Code of Marketing for Breast Milk Substitutes, but this has yet to be adopted in many developing countries). At this stage, it is unclear how the new law will be policed, but with malnutrition affecting millions of Indonesia’s children, it is being welcomed as a step in the right direction for improving the health of the youngest.
In short, no formula coupons, free breastfeeding diaper bags from these formula companies, or anything that may sway the decision of the mother to switch before their infant is six months old.
Do you think countries like The United States would benefit from similar laws?
Photo : flickr.com/Rachel Goetter