Limpopo sets breastfeeding precedent

Studies indicate that 69% of mothers breastfeed their babies at birth, but this falls to 23% after just six weeks*. One of the reasons for this is that when new mothers return to work they often stop breastfeeding as they don’t feel as though they have the facilities or support they need in order to do so.

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, Limpopo MEC of Health, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, unveiled the Limpopo Department of Health’s newly revamped staff breastfeeding and expressing room at the Department of Health (DOH) Offices in Limpopo, this morning. The furniture and appliances were funded by the South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR) and Sostieni, to help set an example of breastfeeding best practice in the workplace.

“By establishing a breastfeeding room at DOH Limpopo, we hope to support breastfeeding mothers, and set a precedent and an example of how to support breastfeeding women in the work place. Employers play an integral part in supporting working breastfeeding mothers, by providing time and a dedicated space for breastfeeding and expressing at work. This helps to improve the long term quality of life for both mothers and children,’ says Ramathuba. “We want to make breastfeeding and expressing milk at work a norm. The children of today are the workforce of tomorrow, we need to ensure that they have every chance of survival,” continues Ramathuba

The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding have been widely documented, with research showing that breastfed children have at least a six times greater chance of survival.*** Breastmilk contains all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals babies need to stay healthy. Mothers with children younger than 6-months are, by law, entitled to at least two 30-minute breastfeeding breaks a day; over and above their lunch breaks.

“Through the creation of work environments which support expressing and breastfeeding as the norm, we are not only supporting our children, but we are emancipating and empowering breastfeeding women,” SABR executive director, Stasha Jordan. “The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is ‘Breastfeeding, a Foundation for Life’, and this cannot be more important in the South African context. Prolonged breastfeeding has many health benefits and it supports sustainable feeding practices in resource constrained environments,” she says.

“Mothers who continue breastfeeding while returning to work can also play a vital role in saving other babies’ lives,” says Jordan. SABR redistributes donated breastmilk to babies in neonatal intensive care that are too weak to breastfeed. “We encourage mothers to donate extra breastmilk to SABR banks, located at hospitals across the country,” concludes Jordan.

To become involved in alleviating the challenges faced by the SABR, such as sourcing donor mothers and funding for the operation of their milk banks and futurebreastfeeding and expressing rooms, please visit www.sabr.org.za or call 011 482 1920 or e-mail: info@sabr.org.za.

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