She said some offices, malls and parks have confirmed plans to establish such rooms following the Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign (SBFC).
Studies have shown breastfed children have lower rates of cancer, obesity, diabetes and depression in later life, she added. Research suggests breastfeeding mums also have fewer health problems and lose weight gained during pregnancy more easily.
But an absence of dedicated breastfeeding rooms means mums or nannies resort to using powder milk bottles to feed babies. "Women are being brainwashed by industry marketing that it's okay to use only formula or artificial milk. Sometimes husbands won't allow anything else [breastfeeding] outside the home," Dr Hessa said.
Now, officials hope to reverse that trend through the SBFC. The initiative is encouraging the setting up of a "mother's room" in large offices, government departments, malls and parks.
Fully equipped rooms
Dr Hessa, who is also the director of the campaign's executive committee, said arrangements will range from small secluded areas with a couch, to larger rooms fitted with a fridge to store breast milk and electric outlets to power handheld breast milk pumps some mothers need. Directions and signage to the rooms will be put up and the rooms will be clearly marked as such, she said.
The rooms will be rolled out in phases over the coming years and a few private and public establishments have already promised to support the plan, she said. "We will send representatives to those interested in this project, to support them. There will be award ceremonies for those who fulfil the campaign's goals," Dr Hessa said.
By Faisal Masudi, Staff reporter, XPRESS