Breastfeeding Support: close to mothers

Western Cape Government Health held a successful information session at the George taxi rank on Friday 2 August 2013 as part of Breastfeeding Week.

Jason Jansen(right) informs Xolile Nobetha about the importance of support
Jason Jansen(right) informs Xolile Nobetha about the importance of support

Moms were informed about the benefits of breastfeeding and dads were informed about the importance of support to ensure that mothers continue breastfeeding for the recommended duration.

The theme for 2013 World Breastfeeding Week which took place from 1 to 7 August 2013 was ‘Breastfeeding Support: close to mothers’. Most mothers abandon breastfeeding once they return to work or they discontinue breastfeeding in the weeks after delivery.

The objectives for the breastfeeding week 2013 are:

l To highlight importance of exclusive breastfeeding in reducing child mortality

l To emphasize the importance of supporting mothers to breastfeed during the early days post-delivery within the health facility, households and in the community.

l To increase public awareness on the benefits of early feeding as well as continued breastfeeding in child survival.

The Western Cape Government Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life (no other food or liquid – not even water – is needed during this period).  Breast milk contains the perfect balance of nutrients, to help your baby’s body grow strong and the right amount of vitamins and minerals to develop your baby’s brain. It contains enough water so that you baby’s thirst is quenched, even on hot days.

Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha says, “We are encouraging mothers to breastfeed as it fits into our strategic objective of creating wellness, which in the long term will help form resilient, productive youth who can become part of a healthier future.”

Breastfeeding is safe for HIV positive mothers, it is important for HIV positive mothers to follow their healthcare worker’s instructions carefully and not to use mixed feeds, so that your baby can stay healthy. HIV positive moms should always use their antiretroviral medication as advised, as this will help prevent their babies from contracting HIV.

Despite the fact that health authorities around the world support the World Health Organization’s recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, only  37% of mothers around the world exclusively breast feed for the recommended time.  South Africa, at just 8%, has one of the lowest

exclusive breastfeeding rates in the world! This is a great concern when you take into account that breast milk protects babies from illnesses such Diarrhoea and Respiratory infections which increase the risk of death to infants, by helping to boost their immune-system. Other health benefits are that exclusive breastfeeding helps the digestive system develop so that these babies are less likely to develop constipation.  Breastfeeding result in the increased secretion of endorphins, (hormones that make you feel good), which helps both mother and baby relax.

Moms-to-be should discuss their concerns about breastfeeding with their health care worker.

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