This year’s World Breastfeeding campaign celebrates breastfeeding as the foundation of life for the good health of mothers and children. Co-ordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), the campaign identifies breastfeeding as an essential strategy to prevent malnutrition in all its forms, combat inequality, crises and poverty – all major issues in many South African communities.
ADSA (Associations for Dietetics in South Africa) spokesperson and Registered Dietitian Mbali Mapholi, points out how important it is that women in South African communities – where hunger, poverty and inequality are rife; where crises such as fires, floods and social unrest are frequent – realise that breastfeeding their babies can provide many vitals benefits.
“Breastfeeding provides babies with the best source of highest quality nutrition possible, at the very small cost of just ensuring that the mother’s nutritional needs are met,” says Mbali. “Malnutrition is the third highest cause of infant death in South Africa, and breastfeeding can prevent malnutrition in all its forms. Breastfeeding also provides complete food security for infants, even in times of crisis.”
Breastfeeding saves you time
- Breastmilk is always available
- Breastfeeding requires no preparation
Breastfeeding saves you money
- No need to buy infant formula
- No need to buy bottles, teats and sterilising products
- No need to use electricity
Breastfeeding boosts your baby’s health. A breastfed baby is likely to get sick less often. This means there are fewer clinic visits, and fewer days off absent for Mom.
- Lower risk of death
- Lower risk of diarrhoea
- Lower risk of chest infections
- Lower risk of ear infections
- Lower risk of overweight and obesity
Breastfeeding boosts mom’s health
- Lower risk of breast cancer
- Lower risk of ovarian cancer
- Lower risk of high blood pressure
“There are so many incredible advantages to breastfeeding,” says Mbali, who is currently breastfeeding her 14-week old twins. “Moms need to feel confident that it is the natural, perfect food for their infants under six months; and it continues to be a vital source of nutrition as a baby grows into a toddler and their immune systems continue to develop. Some Moms may need to return to work, but because breastmilk is best for baby, they should consider expressing and storing their milk so their children continue to receive the benefits for longer.”
Tips for expressing breastmilk
- Allow 20 to 40 minutes of relaxed private time
- Gently massage and squeeze around the nipple area and your milk will start to flow
- Collect your breastmilk in a wide-rimmed container that has been sterilised with boiling water
- Transfer the breastmilk to sealable bottles, food containers or food bags that have been sterilised with boiling water. You can even get pre-sterilised, resealable food bags.
- Breastmilk can be safely stored in the fridge for one to two days or in the freezer for up to six months
- If you are expressing and storing a lot of breastmilk, date the storage containers so you can keep track of the milk that needs to be used first
“World Breastfeeding Week reminds us that breastfeeding is a universal solution that gives everyone a fair start in life and lays the foundation for good health and survival of children and women”, concludes Mbali. “Moms need to be fully supported by their families, friends and employers because breastfeeding is a major strategy to fight poverty and boost food security in our communities, and we hope to see a significant increase in breastfeeding across South African communities.”
For information on World Breastfeeding Week 2018 visit www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org