Western Cape launches breastfeeding campaign

The Western Cape has launched a programme that addresses with perceptions of breastfeeding Picture: iStock
The Western Cape has launched a programme that addresses with perceptions of breastfeeding
Picture: iStock

Cape Town has been hard at work on its “breastfeeding restoration plan”‚ which includes addressing perceptions of breastfeeding in public.

Last year a Cape Town mother was told to leave a well-known clothing retailer when she breastfed her baby. And when she left she claimed staff mocked her. Her story prompted public outcry.

On Wednesday the Western Cape Department of Health will be celebrating the Human Milk Banking week with a “Breast Express” event where women will hand express milk for donation.

According to the department South Africa’s exclusive breastfeeding rate is 8% — way below the world average of 38%.

“Breast milk acts as a natural vaccine that protects babies from infections‚ allergies and diarrhoea amongst other things. The City of Cape Town has been working hard on its breastfeeding restoration plan over the past few years‚” said mayoral committee member JP Smith.

“The plan is designed to ensure that all City policies and guidelines are in line with the strategy to promote‚ protect and support breastfeeding; training health workers to properly implement best practice and addressing perceptions about breastfeeding in public.”

Mothers will be bussed to the event from places like the Bishop Lavis Maternity Obstetric Unit and the Gugulethu Maternity Obstetrics Unit.

“The best thing women can do is to offer their newborn babies the number one nutritional supplement‚” said Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo.

In 2012 the city hosted an event where 1‚549 women gathered to breastfeed their babies together.

This year Pope Francis encouraged women at a ceremony at the Sistine Chapel to breastfeed their children at church.

“The ceremony is a little long‚ someone’s crying because he’s hungry‚” the Pope reportedly said.

“You mothers‚ go ahead and breastfeed‚ without fear.”

Mother of three‚ Melanie Julies from Ceres in the Western Cape‚ said: “It is the most nutritional or healthiest option for babies. I loved breastfeeding because it gave me quality time with my sons.”

According to the Human Milk Banking Association of South Africa‚ the benefits of breast milk for babies are that it:

•Passes immunity from the mother to the infant.
•Provides optimal nutrition for the first six months of life‚ as it meets all the nutritional requirements.
•Helps mature the gastro-intestinal tract and therefore decreases the risk of diarrhoea.
•Decreases respiratory‚ ear and digestive tract infections.
•Promotes better cognitive development‚ so babies have higher IQs.
•Decreases the risk of the baby developing food allergies.
•Plays an important role in jaw and speech development.
•Breastfed infants are less likely to be overfed.
•Provides endorphins‚ which makes the infant happy and relaxed.
•Acts as an analgesic.
•Creates a special bond between the mother and infant.
•Breastfeeding has many long-term health benefits‚ such as reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes.

The benefits to mothers are that it:

•Promotes the contraction of the uterus‚ therefore helping it to return to pre-pregnancy size.
•Breastfeeding is convenient and economical.
•Increases the energy needs of the mother and aids in post-pregnancy weight loss.
•Decreases the risk of ovarian and pre-menopausal breast cancer.
•Decreases the risk of osteoporosis.
•Releases prolactin‚ which is a mothering hormone.
•Creates a special bond between the mother and infant.

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