POLOKWANE – In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week and Women’s Month, the MEC for Health, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, launched the Department of Health’s newly revamped breastfeeding and expressing room on Wednesday, 1 August at the Che Guevara House in Polokwane.
You might also want to read: Why it is important to breastfeed your child
With the aim to support working mothers who breastfeed, and set a precedent on how others must support breastfeeding women in the workplace, the room was revamped by male counterparts at the department to show support for the many roles women play in society.
“By establishing a breastfeeding room at the Department of Health, we hope to support breastfeeding mothers and set a precedent and example of how to support breastfeeding women in the workplace. 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. We want to make breastfeeding and expressing milk at work the norm. The children of today are the workforce of tomorrow and we need to ensure they have every chance of survival,” Ramathuba explained.
She urged health departments across the country to adopt this policy and help support women in the workplace.
The furniture and appliances for the Albertina Sisulu Breastfeeding Office were funded by the South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR) and Sostieni to help set an example of breastfeeding best practice in the workplace.
Stasha Jordan, Director at the SABR, said it is through the creation of such work environments which support expressing and breastfeeding as the norm, they not only support children, they emancipate and empower breastfeeding women. The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is ‘Breastfeeding, a Foundation for Life’.
“Mothers who continue breastfeeding while returning to work can also play a vital role in saving other babies’ lives,” Jordan said. SABR redistributes donated breast milk to babies in neonatal intensive care who are too weak to breastfeed.
“We encourage mothers to donate extra breast milk to SABR banks located at hospitals across the country. 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, visit www.sabr.org.za, call (011) 482 1920 or e-mail: [email protected],” Jordan concluded.
BONUS spoke to some of the attendees at the launch to hear what they learned from the launch and Mohale Seepe, a new father, said the launch and session was very successful and informative and, as a father, he can attest to the exclusive breastfeeding concept in babies for at least six months. Another attendee, Lerato Lehong, said: “Breastmilk is very important for a baby’s development. All my children were breastfed exclusively and I want to encourage mothers to strive to breastfeed their babies until they are six months old”.