Breastfeeding: optimal feeding choice for infants.
Breastfeeding is recognised worldwide as the optimal infant feeding choice. The promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding is described by the World Health Organisation as one of the top child survival strategies with the ability to decrease infant deaths by 13%. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 37% of deaths in children under 5 years old are a result of malnutrition. Breastfeeding protects a baby from developing allergies, it boost intelligence, lowers the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and can also reduce the mother’s stress level and the risk of postpartum depression.
During 2014 – 2015, 986 children were admitted to hospital for malnutrition, with 18 deaths in the Province of children under 5.
The Western Cape Government Health will host a Breastfeeding seminar on 4 August 2017 on restoring breastfeeding as optimal feeding choice for infants. The theme emphasises the importance of breastfeeding during the first 1000 days (from conception to when the child turns two) and sustaining the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. This year the theme focus on protecting brain development to achieve optimal growth and development.
Breast milk is a living tissue that changes to meet the needs of a baby. It provides complete nutrition for a baby and plays an important role in protecting the baby while the immune system development is still underway. It was found that by exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life child, infant deaths can be decreased by 13%.
A child’s health is most vulnerable during the first 1 000 days of its life. The right nutrition during this 1 000-day window can have a profound impact on a child’s ability to develop and learn.
The Western Cape Government Health encourages and promotes action and investment to improve nutrition for mothers and children in the first 1 000 days by promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. Breast milk is complete and readily available and Breastfeeding 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 chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer,
· Help decrease bleeding after birth, and
· Help with weight control after pregnancy.
The Department adopted an initiative called the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, known in South Africa as the Mother Baby Friendly Initiative (MBFI) - an international strategy to promote, protect and support breastfeeding as the optimal infant feeding choice.. This initiative aims to create a breastfeeding conducive environment in the maternity wards while also supporting mothers who are unable or choose not to breastfeed for various reasons. To date, 100% of the public health and 3 private birthing units in the Western Cape are accredited with Mother Baby Friendly Initiative (MBFI) status
August is Women’s Health awareness month. During this month extra efforts are made by staff to promote the importance of women looking after their health and wellness.
Western Cape Health Minister, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo shared the following message, “Women are often care givers, ensuring that everyone around them is well taken care of and some end up neglecting their own health. As a woman and a Nurse by profession, I urge all women to make use of our health services not just during the women’s month but throughout the year.”