South Africa: Mothers Need Help and Support If They Are to Breastfeed Their Babies for an Optimal Time


In my research, some mothers expressed the age-old cultural belief that whatever you felt at the time, was transmitted via breast milk to their infants. Mothers felt anger, pain and disappointment and were cognisant that these negative feelings, like their own hunger, could be shared with their young.

Chantell Witten is a lecturer at the University of Free State and serves as the Nutrition Lead for the South African Civil Society for Women's, Adolescents' and Children's Health (SACSoWACH). More information about her research on breastfeeding can be found here.

"When I am hungry, I even breastfeed her my hunger." These were the words of one of my research participants back in December 2018. Long before Covid-19's arrival.

It's the countdown to World Breastfeeding Week 2021, the annual global campaign to raise awareness about the importance of breastfeeding. The campaign has called on governments and all sectors of society to promote, protect and support breastfeeding since 1992. Much of the world has suboptimal breastfeeding rates, despite all these global and local breastfeeding promotion efforts.

This year's global theme is: "Protect breastfeeding, a shared responsibility".

But how can we call on women to breastfeed when women's circumstances are far from favourable to...

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