Mothers encouraged to breastfeed regardless of HIV status

Healthy babies breed a healthy generation. World Breastfeeding Week and the City of Ekurhuleni advocates exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life for good nutrition and health.

The City of Ekurhuleni joined the world in commemorating World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) which promotes health and sustainable development.

WBW is observed from August 1 to 7 every year.

Thembane Masina, manager of the city’s maternal, child, women and men’s health department, has encouraged exclusive breastfeeding by both HIV negative and positive mothers.

“For infants to survive, grow and develop as they should, they need to be breastfed,” said Masina.

“It will strengthen their immune system, creating a resistance to life-threatening illnesses regardless of their mother’s HIV status.”

HIV positive breastfeeding mothers are given a fixed-dose combination drug that is a combination of two or more antiretroviral drugs in one pill which allows them to breastfeed their babies and prevents mother-to-child transmission during the infant feeding period.

Also read: Ekurhuleni and Gift of the Givers make their partnership official

Breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of life and should not be replaced by formula milk, juice or water.

After six months, breastfeeding should be continued along with other nourishing foods for the baby.

Masina further stated that mothers may have observed that health practitioners at clinics encourage natural breastfeeding as opposed to bottle feeding as bottles may harbour infections on the artificial teat.

Mothers who experience challenges with breastfeeding such as engorgement, nipple pain/trauma or when the baby won’t latch to the breast are encouraged to visit their nearest clinic for assistance.

The city has nutritionists and dietitians who visit Ekurhuleni primary health care facilities to educate mothers on how to effectively breastfeed.

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