SA lags behind international breastfeeding standard

According to a new report published by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), no country in the world fully meets recommended standards for breastfeeding.

The Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, which evaluated 194 nations, found that only 40 percent of children younger than six months are breastfed exclusively (given nothing but breast milk) and only 23 countries have exclusive breastfeeding rates above 60 percent.

Evidence shows breastfeeding is especially critical during the first six months of life, helping prevent diarrhoea and pneumonia, two major causes of death in infants.

Stats SA research reveals that exclusive breastfeeding (up to 6 months) has risen to 32 percent from a low 8 percent. The world average however, sits at 43 percent.

Jenny Wright, CEO of Human Milk Bank speaks to Africa Melane on the need to increase local breastfeeding rates.

While we are celebrating enormously that the breast feeding rate has gone up so much, I have to point out that that is the initiation of breastfeeding, 36% is mother's going home exclusively breastfeeding. Sadly once mothers get home the rate of exclusive breastfeeding starts to drop very quickly and by six months the exclusive breast feeding rate is so much lower....

Jenny Wright, CEO of Human Milk Bank

Responding to perceptions that breast-feeding is painful and inconvenient, Wright says a lot more awareness is needed amongst women to find the necessary help.

There is the idea that in the beginning breastfeeding is painful, it is not , it means that there is a problem with the latch if there is that level of discomfort or damage to the breast and that mother needs help and she needs support.

Jenny Wright, CEO of Human Milk Bank

If we can help mom's to understand how to cope that makes a huge difference......things like mom have to go back to work very early, when they do go back not all employers are very supportive of breast feeding. That is unacceptable.

Jenny Wright, CEO of Human Milk Bank

Click on the link below to listen to the full audio....

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