Nigerian working mothers often have to make difficult choices about their newborns. And sometimes these choices affect the quality of family life in Nigeria.
We recently conducted a survey on working mothers who use our platform about their reasons for going back to work after childbirth. The results of our survey shows that 56% of Nigerian babies 3 months old and younger are being looked after by strangers i.e. nannies or daycare providers.
What else did working mothers say?
Approximately 60% of working mothers surveyed said they were only able to exclusively breastfeed their babies for 3 months or less. While only 24% of the women surveyed were able to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months.
WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health.
Research findings by the health organisation suggest that exclusive breastfeeding of infants with only breast milk, and no other foods or liquids, for six months has several advantages over exclusive breastfeeding for 3-4 months followed by mixed breastfeeding.
Going back to work is one of the reasons why not many Nigerian women breastfeed exclusively for 6 months. About 53% of mothers surveyed say they went back to work after childbirth because of financial reasons. However 15% of mothers admitted that they returned to work because they love their jobs.
For many working mothers in Nigeria, it appears that the official maternity leave period of 3 months is insufficient. For example only 30% of mums surveyed said this 3-months leave period was enough time to look after their newborns. 76% of mums admitted that they would have liked it if their maternity leave period was for 6 months or more.
It is no wonder that in 2014, the Lagos State Government, approved for its employees to enjoy six-months maternity leave as against the three months that was in practice before.
We at Mamalette believe that other employers in Nigeria should try to accommodate the needs of new mothers. This is evidenced by 93% of mothers saying that they find juggling being a new mum and with their work life to be challenging.