Limpopo gets its first breast milk bank

Limpopo gets its first breast milk bank

The department’s MEC Phophi Ramathuba was joined by a group of experts at the Mankweng Hospital where the bank was launched. She said that the bank was aimed at collecting milk from mothers to benefit premature infants and women who can’t produce milk. The bank would also, ideally, help fight child mortality.


"If you want to deal with infant mortality, you [have] to emphasise and spread the message of breastfeeding," said Ramathuba.

This, she said, was key to reducing deaths among children under the age of five.

The bank, which already started receiving milk from donors, is the product of the three-year-old Tshwane Declaration, which advocated for "exclusive breastfeeding" for all infants up to the age of six months, including HIV-exposed infants.

South Africa is among a list of countries still battling to decrease child mortality rates. According to experts, mothers are no longer as eager to breastfeed their infants, exposing children to various sicknesses and premature deaths.

"We are trying to say exclusive breastfeeding is not an option, it’s a must," said Ramathuba, "That’s what we are saying to all the mothers – please breast feed."

Ramathuba said that while there were mothers who could not produce milk, those who could were called upon to assist by donating.

In addition to being unable to produce milk, a reason cited for not breastfeeding was that it was associated with poverty.

In a bid to counter the negativity around breastfeeding, Ramathuba shared a personal story.

When she had given birth to her children, Ramathuba said she was struck with resistance by her hired nanny who refused to use her breast-preserved milk.

She said she had been freezing her own milk for her babies as she was aware of the importance of mother’s milk. Ramathuba said she would request that when the baby was crying, the nanny fetch the milk in the fridge and feed it to the child.

However, said Ramathuba, the breast-bottled milk issue resulted in her having to part ways with the nanny.

"There was one time I found the nanny making some soft porridge, and she was fired, because I had told her strictly breast milk," she said.

Ramathuba said breastfeeding also had hidden benefits such as healthy weight loss and worked as a natural contraceptive.

"Once you ovulate, you won’t fall pregnant," she said, "As a woman, it is a cheaper and simpler way [of contraception]."

Like the MEC, Sarina Molepo, a new mother residing in Boyne village near the hospital, said nurses at the hospital had convinced her of the importance of breastfeeding her twins.

"I believe that it is helpful and important," she said.

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