Best antidote to child hunger
Breast remains best.
This was again the global message shared during World Breastfeeding Week, celebrated from Wednesday 1 August until today (Tuesday 7 August). Health organisations, governments and NPOs across the world united in the effort to promote and support breastfeeding.
The awareness week celebrated breastfeeding as the foundation of life for the good health of mothers and children.
The campaign, coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, identifies breastfeeding as an essential strategy to prevent malnutrition, combat inequality, crises and poverty – all major issues in many South African communities.
According to the World Health Organisation, babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life and, if possible, breastfeeding should continue until the age of two and beyond while complementary foods are introduced.
Mbali Mapholi, a registered dietitian and Association for Dietetics in South Africa spokesperson, pointed out how important it is that women in SA communities realise that breastfeeding their babies can provide many vital 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,” she explained.
“Malnutrition is the third highest cause of infant death in SA and breastfeeding can prevent malnutrition in all its forms. Breastfeeding also provides complete food security for infants, even in times of crisis.”
Mapholi, who is currently breastfeeding her 14-week-old twins, said there are many advantages to breastfeeding.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Breastfeeding is a universal solution, Mapholi added.
“It gives everyone a fair start in life and lays the foundation for good health and survival of children and women,” she said.
“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 SA communities.”
For further details, visit www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org.
Tips for expressing breastmilk
1. Allow 20 to 40 minutes of relaxed private time.
2. Gently massage and squeeze around the nipple area and your milk will start to flow.
3. Collect your breastmilk in a wide-rimmed container that has been sterilised with boiling water.
4. 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.
5. Breastmilk can be safely stored in the fridge for one to two days or in the freezer for up to six months.
6. 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.