While not all moms can breastfeed, you may choose to opt out of breastfeeding altogether without fully understanding all the benefits for your baby.
Breastfeeding awareness aims to highlight the importance of breastfeeding and the impact it has on nutrition, food security and poverty reduction as well as survival and the wellbeing of you and your baby.
Although experts believe breast milk is the best nutritional choice for infants, the decision to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is a personal one as breastfeeding may not be possible for all moms.
Breastfeeding does, however, come with a lot of nutritional benefits for both you and your baby. Breast milk contains antibodies which helps your baby fight off viruses and bacteria and lowers your baby's risk of developing asthma or allergies. Also, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and instances of diarrhoea.
First 1 000 days
Did you know your child’s health is most vulnerable during the first 1 000 days of their life? The right nutrition during the 1 000-day time period can have a profound impact on a child’s ability to develop and learn.
The Western Cape Department of Health encourages and promotes action and investment to improve nutrition for mothers and children in the first 1 000 days.
5 Reasons why breastfeeding is good for you and your baby
Choosing to exclusively breastfeed your baby will help:
- protect your baby against respiratory and non-communicable diseases such as asthma and diabetes,
- assist your baby’s brain, teeth and jaw to develop,
- decrease the chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer,
- help decrease bleeding after birth, and
- help with weight control after your pregnancy.
Getting the necessary support
For some first-time moms, breastfeeding can be very challenging and stressful. If you choose to breastfeed your baby it’s important that you receive the proper assistance. Family support, a relaxed environment and assistance at home will contribute toward a positive breastfeeding experience for you and your baby.
MomConnect is a free service that aims to use mobile health tools, messaging services and other platforms to create awareness among pregnant women about available health services for their infants.
Helping other moms
The local Western Cape milk bank, Milk Matters, is the result of the vision and foresight of the team at Mowbray Maternity Hospital, the largest maternity centre in the Western Cape.
Mowbray Maternity Hospital is fortunate to have a Kangaroo Mother Care Ward, which also acts as a reservoir for breast milk donors. Some mothers spend months in the unit monitoring the growth of their infants and as a result can potentially donate litres of breast milk. Donating breast milk is something that most lactating mothers can do, however, some aren’t well-informed about the concept of donating their breast milk.
Your rights as a working breastfeeding mom
When you return to work from maternity leave, you can ask your manager or supervisor for a space where you can breastfeed or express milk.
According to the Code of Good Practice on the protection of employees during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, arrangements should be made for you to have 2 breaks of 30 minutes per day for breastfeeding or expressing milk. This should be arranged for every working day for the first 6 months of your child's life.
A toilet isn't a safe or hygienic space to express milk. Try to get a clean and private space for you to express milk or breastfeed.
Breastfeeding is the best choice for your baby. Watch.