Limpopo Sets Breastfeeding Precedent for Women’s Month

The 9th of August, Women’s Day marks the anniversary of the great women’s march of 1956, where over 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the carrying of passbooks. How great is that?

Over 20,000 women marching as one and not as individuals of different race, age, or background. Many different women came together to fight for the freedom of black women in South Africa. It truly is an incredible thing to imagine!

As a result of these brave, determined women’s success, August is celebrated as Women’s Month. The Limpopo Department of Health decided to celebrate this month by doing something unique that will make a difference in many women’s lives and hopefully set a new standard for workplaces and public areas when it comes to women breastfeeding their babies.

In a recent release issued by The Limpopo Department of Health Dr Joy Summerton urges attendees to make breastfeeding a norm in the workplace, at the launch of Limpopo DOH’s newly revamped breastfeeding and expressing room, earlier today. Also pictured: Limpopo MEC of Health, Dr Phophi Ramathuba Dr Ntodeni Ndwamato, Dr Phineas Dombo.

The release further went on to say that 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 future breastfeeding and expressing rooms, please visit www.sabr.org.za or call 011 482 1920 or e-mail: info@sabr.org.za.

 ABOUT SOUTH AFRICAN BREASTMILK RESERVE

 The South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR) is a not-for-profit, human milk-banking organisation, founded in 2003. While we are primarily an altruistic human milk-banking network, we also focus on breastfeeding advocacy and promotion, in order to grow breastfeeding in South Africa.

Our vision is to decrease infant mortality resulting from Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC) and mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV through the formation of numerous community-driven, breastmilk banks and educational programmes, so as to contribute to a South Africa “living with HIV/AIDS”, rather than a South Africa “dying of HIV/AIDS”.

  SABR’s operations during the period 2014-15 involved 51 human milk-banking hospitals, as well as an ever-growing number of hospital facilities (currently 87) seeking assistance from the SABR Head Office.

During this period, we improved the lives of 2 845 premature infants.

This was a 67.8% increase compared with the previous year. In the period

2016-17 a number of human-milk banks have been emancipated and absorbed into parallel human-milk banking initiatives thus leading sustainability and independent banking. The SABR is one of the key partners informing the proposed ‘Regulatory Framework for Human-Milk Banking’ of the Nations Department of Health. https://www.sabr.org.za/milk-banks.html

The SABR is a member of the South African Civil for Women’s Adolescent’s and Children’s Health (SACSoWACH), a Coalition of 22 civil society organizations that work to bring health care to the needy.

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