Maropeng Maifala, a Limpopo mother, could not breastfeed her baby long enough as her employers could not extend her maternity leave after she gave birth three years ago.
Maifala is just one of many women in this predicament who will benefit from the province’s first breast milk bank which was opened recently, Review Online reported.
Situated at the Mankweng Hospital, the facility aims to help reduce infant mortality and it caters largely to orphaned and sick infants.
Maifala said even though her daughter is healthy, she might have been much stronger if she had access to breast milk when she was younger.
“I wish this facility had opened a long time ago as some of us could have benefited greatly from it,” she said.
Health MEC, Phophi Ramathuba has encouraged healthy mothers to donate their breast milk to support mothers who are not able to breastfeed, exclusively.
Orphans, infants whose mothers are infected with chronic illnesses and babies whose immune systems are weak due to underlying conditions could be saved by the breast milk donated by healthy mothers.
The donated breast milk will help reduce mortality rates of infants and children under the age of five, and the pasteurised milk is kept at room temperature in a sterilised environment.
Ramathuba said it was essential for babies to grow with breast milk in the early months after birth.
“Exclusive breastfeeding, especially for the first six months of life, can save a baby’s life. Research has proven beyond reasonable doubt that breast milk is good for a baby’s health and there are many other benefits. It is cheap, sterilised and healthy; you don’t have to worry about infection control when you prepare milk using formula,” Ramathuba said.