In support of women who choose to feed their babies wherever they areNestle is commemorating World Breastfeeding Week by setting up a Breastfeeding Station at Baragwanath Taxi Rank in Soweto for the month of August.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure an infant’s health and survival. In line with WHO’s recommendations, the Nestle Breastfeeding Station will form part of the brand’s pledge to support breastfeeding as the best source of sustenance for infants and young children. WBW is an annual event coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), a global network of individuals and organisations concerned with the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide to improve infant health.

Medical and Scientific Affairs Manager at Nestle, Anne-Marie De Beer emphasises on the need for breastfeeding stations for mothers. “We need to encourage moms to breastfeed wherever and whenever. One of the challenges that mothers often have is when they have small babies and they need to breastfeed, there’s not always a space for them just to go and sit with some dignity and have a space to breastfeed their babies”, De Beer says.

In the sense of normalising breastfeeding, De Beer says having breastfeeding stations is one of the measures in making public places available for moms to breastfeed. “The other thing that’s important is that as society we need to talk about breastfeeding more. We need to get men and dads involved also in this communication that breastfeeding is really the most optimal way of feeding babies”, she says.

Five benefits of breastfeeding

  • Infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months in order to achieve optimal growth, development and health.
  • Breast milk contains antibodies that help protect children against common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea and pneumonia, which are the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide.
  • Breastfeeding is also beneficial for mothers because it protects against pregnancy and functions as a birth control method that is 98% effective for the first six months after giving birth. It also reduces the risks of breast and ovarian cancer, type II diabetes and postpartum depression.
  • Breastfeeding provides long-term benefits. Adolescents and adults who were breastfed as babies perform better in intelligence tests and they are also less likely to develop type II diabetes or to be overweight or obese.
  • Many mothers stop breastfeeding when they return to work as they find continuing an insurmountable challenge. Mothers should be encouraged to continue breastfeeding while working and employers should enable conditions that facilitate this. These include paid maternity leave, part-time work arrangements, on-site crèches, facilities for expressing and storing breast milk and breastfeeding breaks.

“As society we need to support and enable moms to breastfeed”, De Beer says. The people that are frowning upon breastfeeding often just require some education on the benefits of breast milk and that it’s a perfectly natural process. As humans we are designed to breastfeed, I think that the one thing is that society needs to be educated on breastfeeding, the benefits of breastfeeding and why its important for moms to continue breastfeeding for as long as possible. I think the other thing that we really need to do as society is to encourage moms to breastfeed and really be there to support them”, she says.