WHO calls on employers to make workplace breastfeeding friendly

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on employers to make the workplace breastfeeding friendly. WHO made the call as the Breastfeeding Awareness Week ended.

Breastfeeding Awareness week is observed from the 1-7 August. This global campaign aims to raise awareness about breastfeeding and its advantages.

Breastfeeding is regarded as an important component in development, growth and survival survival of children.

The World Health Organisation and UNICEF recommend that children be breastfed from the first hour of birth and be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.

Breastfeeding helps reduce the chance of baby having diarrhoea, ear infection or lung infection or die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. And breastfed babies have lower risk of asthma, obesity among others.

Breast milk helps babies to fight off sickness and disease.

WHO South Africa Officer for Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, Dr Sithembile Dlamini-Nqeketo says there are many benefits of breastfeeding.

“We have seen that there is a reduction in diarrhoea cases and respiratory infections from children who are breastfed. Also, they are less likely to suffer from ear infections which are very common in young children, so breast milk protects children from such. Children who are breastfed have about three quartets less likely to be hospitalised for diarrhoea and also for respiratory infection.”

Dlamini-Nqeketo urges families and employers to support mothers who are breastfeeding.

“Families when they are supportive, it generally creates a positive mindset for the mother. When they go back to work, employers can they please provide safe and hygienic breastfeeding spaces or places that are private and hygienic where they can express their breast milk.”

Meanwhile, a senior dietician, Phindile Mavimbela says mothers must eat the right kind of food to produce sufficient breast milk.

“We are always preaching healthy eating, variety of food, lots of starchy food, lots of fruits and vegetables in the food, chicken- very important. A mother should feed a baby for as much as they want. When you put your baby on the breast, make sure that they feed as much as possible from the breast until they are done.”

One of the mothers, who wished to remain anonymous. says breastfeeding improves the bond between mother and the baby among others.

”What I enjoyed the most about breastfeeding is the bond because whenever I am with the baby, he recognises my face and we keep eye contact. Whenever I hold him, he knows it is time for me to breastfeed him.”

WHO has recorded an increase in the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding over the last decade.