Latch on the importance of breastfeeding

According to Sunel Smith, a dietician at Barberton General Hospital, breastfeeding provides the best building blocks for a good foundation in a new born baby’s life.

Last Thursday, the staff of Barberton Hospital marched from the hospital to the police station to promote and support breastfeeding in the community.

This was part of a week program organised by the dietetic department with the theme: “You have breast, why not breastfeed”.

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“Breastfeeding has numerous health, economical and nutritional benefits for the baby, the mother, the family as well as the community. Some of the benefits for the baby includes: complete nutrition for the first six months, protection of the baby against infection / illness (diarrhoea, ear infection etc), reduces the risk of allergies, and provides essential fatty acids which are important for brain development and it teaches self regulation of appetite for the baby.

Some of the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers includes: reduced bleeding after birth, improved weight loss, saves money and time (no need for bottle cleaning),” said Smith.

She said everyone in the community has the responsibility to support and empower breastfeeding mothers.

“The fathers, friends and family can support breastfeeding by helping with household chores, bathing the baby, changing diapers and allowing the mother to spend more quality time with the baby. They can even participate in cup feeding of expressed breast milk. Employers and colleagues can support breastfeeding by providing adequate time and space for expressing breast milk if the baby cannot go with the mother to the workplace,” added Smith.
She said according to the Tshwane declaration of 2011, South Africa has declared itself as a country that actively promotes, protects and supports exclusive breastfeeding.

“Part of the actions that we as health facilities have to take is to become accredited with the Mother and Baby Friendly Initiative (MBFI) status. With hard work, Barberton Hospital attained MBFI status in 2015. Our aim is to prevent unnecessary infant and young child deaths (due to not breastfeeding),” added Smith.

Richard Nkosi

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