In May this year a Rustenburg mom, Sizile Makola, had a bad breastfeeding experience when she visited a private clinic in town.
She channelled her anger and frustration in an article that we published on All4Women. Because of this article, the issue of public breastfeeding has received enormous publicity countrywide. Makola has had on a number of radio and newspaper interviews on the matter.
Together with the Normalise Public Breastfeeding in South Africa group, Makola is calling for laws to protect breastfeeding moms and the Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi has welcomed this campaign saying that the ministry is in support of any effort that promotes breastfeeding as it saves lives.
As government, we fully support breastfeeding as it has been proven as one of the interventions that will reduce this country’s infant mortality… it is the way to go
“We welcome the proposal and we will look at it and see if it’s something that needs to be pursued further. As government, we fully support breastfeeding as it has been proven as one of the interventions that will reduce this country’s infant mortality… it is the way to go. I think criticism of public breast-feeding is unwarranted and absurd,” he said.
“We want South African’s to visit our Normalise Public Breastfeeding in South Africa Social Movement Facebook page and sign our petitions to get the proposed Bills into law,” says Makola
The group is calling on all establishments to show their support for breastfeeding moms by putting up the “We support breastfeeding” poster up in a prominent place in their establishment. This poster is available for free from their Facebook page
For information and developments on this amazing initiative, follow the group and Sizile Makola on twitter on @NPBFSA and @sizilemakola respectively.
Why your support is so important?
Changing the attitudes to breastfeeding to make it the norm will have huge implications to breastfeeding rates in South Africa. The main barriers to breastfeeding are restricted freedom, independence, family issues, return to work, social embarrassment and perceived social isolation.
The longer a mother breastfeeds, the more advantages both she and her baby will receive
Breastfeeding should continue and be supported for as long as a mother wishes to do so. With the introduction of appropriate complementary foods at around six months she can continue to breastfeed for up to 2 years and beyond if she so wishes.
Globally, breastfeeding has been acknowledged as being the most important intervention in improving children’s health and is the key to reducing inequalities in health amongst socially disadvantaged groups.
Breastfeeding offers protection against numerous childhood illnesses including chest, stomach and ear infections, diabetes and childhood obesity. Mothers who breastfeed gain health benefits, as they lower their risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and hip fractures in later life.
The Department of Health needs to increase the numbers of women who exclusively breastfeed from 7.4% to the World Health Organisation’s goal of 50% by 2025
Many mothers report that they would have liked to have breastfed for longer but cite a number of reasons for giving up. These include:
• Feeling embarrassed about breastfeeding in public
• Premises not welcoming breastfeeding
• Premises not being clean enough for them to feel comfortable breastfeeding their baby.
• Premises offering unsuitable rooms to breastfeed eg toilets
• Premises offering bottle warming services as an alternative to breastfeeding thus discouraging breastfeeding.
For breastfeeding to be successfully initiated and established, mothers need the support and expertise of health professionals and the positive encouragement from family and friends. To continue and maintain breastfeeding for longer they also need the support of the workplace and the local community.
You can make a difference!
Participating premises will have their contact details displayed on Normalise Public Breastfeeding in South Africa Campaign Facebook page and mothers can see the choice available.
Seeing the poster identifies which establishments are comfortable, supportive and accepting towards breastfeeding. Your business will be demonstrating that it cares about its customers and they will come back….. and bring their friends!