6 Breastfeeding Barriers Women Face In UAE


Breastfeeding is one of the most beneficial acts a mother can undertake – not only does it provide the child with milk, which is nutritionally apt, it promotes bonding with the baby. The WHO recommends that the first 6 months a baby should be exclusively breastfed. However, due to a variety of reasons, breastfeeding rates have dropped over the world.

In the UAE, according to a study, these are some of the reasons why:

Belief that babies stay hungry after breastfeeding due to insufficient milk

This is one of the most common worries for most moms out there – is my baby still hungry? It may take some time to get confident, but your baby will let you know if they’re still hungry! A steady weight gain, wet and dirty nappies and hearing your baby swallow are some ways to know that your baby is feeding well.

That’s not to say that there may never be breastfeeding issues – such as low supply or attachment problems. If you feel that the feed is not enough, talk to your doctor or engage a lactation consultant to help you.

Recommended reading: Is my baby getting enough milk?

Maternal Health Problems

Health issues such as cracked nipples, inverted nipples and oral thrush make most moms think that they need to switch to formula. But all of these health issues can be resolved while breastfeeding!

Issues like thrush and cracked nipples require ointments and other medications that are perfectly safe to take while breastfeeding. In addition, learning attachment and latching techniques are an added bonus in prevention of these health issues.

Do talk to your doctor about your health issues and ask them how to breastfeed while getting treated.

Recommended reading: Common breastfeeding problems

Pain in the breast(s)

Breast pain due to incorrect positioning is one of the most common problems faced by feeding mothers. We recommend calling your doctor or doula or lactation specialist to help you understand the different positions and latchment issues and help ease the pain. In addition, you can try different positions such as the cradle hold or lying on your side.

Other causes of breast pain could be blocked milk ducts, oral thrush or any other common breastfeeding issues.

The key to resolving this barrier is asking for help often and early enough to reduce a mother’s suffering.

Recommended reading: Breastfeeding positions, Breast pain and breastfeeding

Going back to work

Article 31 of the UAE Labour Law states that a working woman nursing her baby is entitled to two additional 30-minute breaks every day for 18 months after the birth of her baby. The breaks are part of her working hours and no deduction in wages can be made. Thus, giving you time to pump your breast milk.

In addition, the UAE currently has six weeks of paid maternity leave for new mothers working in the private sector, while those working in the public sector are entitled to three months of paid maternity leave.

Knowing your rights and fostering an open communication with your employers is the first step to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Recommended reading: Breastfeeding and working mums

Pressure from family members

WHO recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, they should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.

Women who choose to breastfeed till 2 years have received unsolicited advice about judgement by family members. In addition, some cultural practices will introduce food to children within six months, even though it’s preferable for children to be exclusively breastfed during that time.

It’s a tough situation to deal with – respecting your family while advocating for yourself. At the end of the day, you’ve got science, facts and international health organisations on your side.

Advertising by formula producers

In 2018 the UAE adopted a law regulating the marketing of baby formula, banning its advertising and requiring labels on the products that state it is not a substitute for breastfeeding as a bid to reduce the temptation that most women felt when viewing these ads.

The benefits of breastfeeding are a stronger immune system for the baby, reduced chance of infections and an emotional bonding between mother and child. Whenever possible, choose breastfeeding.

For more information, visit Enaya, an initiative by the Department of Health, UAE to help mothers give their babies the best start to their lives.

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About Author

Garima Capoor is a doctor of medicine by profession, who stumbled her way into content writing, much to her parents' bemusement. Research is her favourite word and she uses it generously while trying to understand the fascinating dynamics of parents and children. With no children of her own, her niece and nephew are the guinea pigs for everything she learns (the family dog was off limits).

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