More women are in paid work than 20 years ago and many struggle to fit breastfeeding into their routines. WHO recommends that all mothers, regardless of their HIV status, practise exclusive breastfeeding — which means no other liquids or food are given — in the first six months. Breastfeeding not only provides babies with the nutrients they need for optimal development but also gives babies the antibodies they need to protect them against some of these common but deadly illnesses. Infant formula was distributed by national and local authorities and by local nongovernmental organizations to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother-to-child, an initiative which inevitably undermined breastfeeding. Year of the Nurse and the Midwife In spite of these findings it will be a challenge to change the ingrained culture of formula feeding in South Africa. It takes time to learn the techniques: young mother breastfeeding in Mowbray Maternity Hospital, Cape Town. She says the government could do more to communicate the message that breastfeeding is good. One thing is certain: health professionals will be more likely to support the underlying message if they have a basic understanding of current research.
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