World Breastfeeding Week

(The Government of South Africa)

World Breastfeeding Week: 1 - 7 August 2012


Breast milk is essential for all babies. To emphasise the value of breastfeeding, the World Health Organization (WHO) has set aside the first week of August as World Breastfeeding Week.

This week is celebrated annually in more than 120 countries to encourage breastfeeding and raise awareness about infant health. In the Western Cape, organisations such as Milk Matters join in this week-long campaign to promote and educate mothers about the importance of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding in the Western Cape

Breastfeeding is the best way to provide new-born infants with the nutrients they need to grow into strong and healthy toddlers. It is recommended that infants start breastfeeding within the first hour of life, and that they are exclusively breast-fed for six months. Continued breastfeeding is then recommended, along with appropriate complementary foods, up to two years of age or beyond. However, some mothers may struggle to breastfeed their babies for this period due to a lack of breast milk.

For premature infants, the availability of breast milk can literally make a difference between life and death. Premature infants whose mothers, for whatever reason, are unable to provide them with breast milk, are placed at risk of developing life-threatening infections. The most common infection seen in premature infants who do not receive breast milk is Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC). This preventable infection is the main reason for the existence of milk banks all over the world.

The local Western Cape milk bank, Milk Matters, owes its existence to the vision and foresight of the management at Mowbray Maternity Hospital, the largest maternity centre in the Western Cape.

Milk Matters supplies pasteurised breast milk to 23 hospitals in the Western Cape, but their ultimate mission is to motivate hospitals to develop their own in-house milk banks. All that is needed is enthusiasm, commitment, and some breastfeeding mothers - Milk Matters will provide hospitals with the knowledge and experience they have gained over the last eight years.

Western Cape Government Health in collaboration with the City of Cape Town will be hosting a Breastfeeding festival at Good Hope Centre to promote breastfeeding on Wednesday, 8 August 2012. There will also be an attempt to break the current Guinness World record for the number of mothers breastfeeding at the same time.

Breastfeeding Positions:


The correct feeding position is very important when feeding a baby. A good latch and position will ensure that your baby gets as much milk as they want and that your breast milk supply builds up and is maintained without having sore or cracked nipples.

Further Information:

The content on this page was last updated on 15 March 2014