Breastfeeding is optimal for child health development and nutrition of infants but most working mothers find it difficult to continue the practice when they return from maternity leave.
This is because there are no suitable spaces at most workplaces for new mothers to express or breastfeed their children during working hours, and they become discouraged to continue breastfeeding because they spend most of the day at work without their babies.
In an effort to address this challenge, the Limpopo Department of Health has launched the first ever breastfeeding and expressing room within its offices.
The breastfeeding room was launched by MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba, as part of the World Breastfeeding Week and Women’s Month.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated globally between 1 and 7 August every year to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
The room is named after Mama Albertina Sisulu whose centenary is also celebrated this year.
It is hoped that the room will not only support working breastfeeding mothers, but also encourage other departments to support breastfeeding women in the workplace.
Employees at the department can also have baby-minders bring their babies at work during lunch time for breastfeeding. The room will also be used by mothers who want to express during working hours.
One of the department’s employees Mpho Kutumela and mother of 11-months-old twins, a boy and girl, is excited about the facility.
“The breastfeeding room will come in handy to us as mothers because it will also afford us the opportunity to express our breast milk freely in a conducive environment,” she said.
Mothers who visit the department with their babies for any reason will also be allowed to use the room to breastfeed their children.
MEC Ramathuba said the Albertina Sisulu Breastfeeding room is one of a kind in the province.
The MEC hopes that this initiative will contribute towards the promotion and protection of exclusive breastfeeding practices with the aim of achieving optimal child health development.
“Breast milk contains all nutrients needed by infants and cannot be reproduced artificially,” said the MEC.