Educating parents this Breastfeeding Week

2019-07-31 06:01

WORLD Breastfeeding Week 2019 focuses on enabling breastfeeding success through the empowerment of parents.

Breastfeeding Week runs from August 1 to August 7.

In South Africa, starting breastfeeding immediately or soon after birth is a relatively common practice. This is called early initiation of breastfeeding and supports continued breastfeeding success.

According to the Umvoti Department of Health, almost 99% of Umvoti mothers practice early breastfeeding, but, by the third dose of hexavalent immunisation, at around 14 weeks of the infant’s life, only about 76% report to still practice exclusive breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding practices are undermined by aggressive promotion and marketing of infant formula feeds and the misinformed societal views on breastfeeding.

The department said: “The Umvoti Department of Health continues to promote, protect and support breastfeeding through various infant and child feeding policies and initiatives. These initiatives include the Mother Baby Friendly Initiative (MBFI), Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), Infant and Young Child Feeding Support groups, and community-based Phila Mntwana Centre’s.”

Kangaroo Mother Care, also known as skin-to-skin contact, can be performed by both the mother and the father.

The benefits of Kangaroo Mother Care:

> It enhances bonding between baby and parents

> It helps to conserve baby’s energy

> It stabilises baby’s heart rate and breathing, temperature

> It increases baby’s tolerance to noise and stress

> It increases milk supply

> It facilitates earlier and more successful breastfeeding

> It encourages non-nutritive sucking

> It is a daily vaccination against infections — mothers who KMC their babies produce antibodies in their milk that are specific to the hospital environment

> It helps with baby’s brain development.

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