Encourage Breastfeeding and Improve Babies Health
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. This year’s theme is “Breastfeeding and Work, Let’s Make It Work” highlighting the importance of finding ways to promote exclusive breastfeeding and assist mothers and their breastfed infants.
As part of the Western Cape Government Health’s Women’s Health campaign, Breastfeeding Week concludes with a Breastfeeding Seminar, hosted at UWC. The seminar will discuss themes which focus on restoring breastfeeding as the optimal feeding choice for infants.
In South Africa, breastfeeding rates, especially exclusive breastfeeding, have remained low with only 8% of mother’s breastfeeding for the recommended six months. Among these reasons is the lack of education about its benefits, a lack of support in the workplace and a culture of mixed-feeding, where breast milk is thought to be inadequate. The majority of children under 6 months are being mixed fed, where mothers breastfeed but also give their babies solids and other fluids. A lack of breastfeeding increases the risk of illnesses and death associated with malnutrition and infectious diseases other than HIV, especially in the first six months of an infant’s life. Research has indicated that for HIV infected mothers, exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months carries a lower risk of HIV transmission than mixed feeding. It also shows that when antiretroviral treatment or prophylaxis is used by either the mother or the baby, HIV transmission through breastfeeding is significantly reduced.
According to the National Department of Health, in the last 2 decades, child mortality has decreased by about 40%, but still almost 7 million children under five die each year, mainly from preventable diseases.
Almost all mothers can breastfeed no matter what the size or shape of their breasts. Statistics show that only one per cent of mothers are unable to produce breast milk. With adequate knowledge and support, most mothers can breastfeed successfully. Research has found that when mothers breastfeed immediately after birth, excess post-partum bleeding and anaemia is significantly reduced. These mothers’ stress levels can also be lowered and boost her own immune system and reduce the insulin needs of diabetic mothers.
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). Continued breastfeeding for two years or longer with the introduction of appropriate complementary foods is ideal for the survival and good health of babies.
The objectives for Breastfeeding Week 2015 are:
1. To highlight the importance of exclusive breastfeeding in reducing child mortality.
2. To emphasize the importance of supporting mothers to breastfeed during the early days post-delivery within the health facility, households and in the community.
3. To increase public awareness on the benefits of early feeding as well as continued breastfeeding in child survival.
4. To find best methods to assist mother’s in exclusive breastfeeding.
The Western Cape Government Health has organised activities across the province to demonstrate the importance of community engagement in influencing and supporting exclusive breastfeeding as well as overcoming its challenges.
The Community Health Centre’s situated in the Klipfontein/Mitchells Plain substructure of the Metro District Health Services (MDHS), are actively planning scheduled home visits with mother’s who have recently given birth, in order to provide guidance on best breastfeeding methods, and to ensure that the infant is receiving sufficient nutrition.
Issued by the Directorate Communications for the Western Cape Government Health.
Southern/Western and Mitchells Plain/Klipfontein substructures
Western Cape Government Health
Landline: 021 202 0929
Mobile: 079 908 4856