Health Minister Dr Zwelini Mkhize alongside First Lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe kick off World Breastfeeding Week at Kalafong Hospital. Picture: Goitsemang Tlhabye.

Pretoria - If adults can eat anywhere and at any time they want, then mothers breastfeeding their children should not be expected to hide in corners either.

At the start of World Breastfeeding Awareness Week running from Thursday up until 7 August, Health Minister Dr Bandile Masuku and the First Lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe kicked off the day at the Kalafong Hospital in Atteridgeville.

But also to join in on Save the Children South Africa’s one-hundredth birthday celebrations.

This year's theme: “Empowering Parents - Enabling Breastfeeding,” was according to Motsepe very important in order to create a positive support system for mothers in our communities.

Motsepe said even though work done by the 29 partners working towards the promotion of breastfeeding in the country had greatly improved things as recorded in 2017, a lot more still had to be done.

As a mother herself, Motsepe said she promoted strictly breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life and had personally breastfed her children until they were two years old.

“I only stopped breastfeeding one of my children earlier as she had teeth and was starting to bite me. I believe that being able to breastfeed them until that time gave them the best start to leading healthy lives.”

“I was fortunate enough and believe that communities, families, employees and society as a whole need to start supporting and encouraging mothers to breastfeed instead of jumping straight into formula or feeding children porridge.” 

Motsepe said much more work would be needed to raise awareness for support needed for mothers in the workplace and for breastfeeding in public spaces to be promoted.

According to Unicef, the latest research published in The Lancet noted how 20 000 deaths due to breast cancer could be prevented each year by improving breastfeeding practices.

How increased breastfeeding could prevent nearly half of all diarrhoea episodes and one-third of all respiratory infections.

While at the same time decreasing hospital admissions by between 57% and 72% respectively.

With breastfeeding said to boost IQ among children and adolescents by an increase of 3 points on average.

Pretoria News