Breastfeeding within an hour after birth is critical for saving newborn lives
An estimated 78 million newborns have a higher risk of death each year as a result of not drinking their mother’s milk within the first hours of being born, according to the United Nations.
A recent report – jointly published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, to coincide with the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week – observed mothers in 76 low and middle-income countries.
It found that only two out of five babies are breastfed immediately after being born. It also said that while instant breastfeeding is very common in East and Southern Africa, that is not the case in East Asia and the Pacific, where less than a third of newborns get to drink their mother’s milk soon after being born.
“When it comes to the start of breastfeeding, timing is everything. In many countries, it can even be a matter of life or death,” said Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF.
UNICEF recommend that babies should be exclusively breastfed up to an age of six months, after which they can begin incorporating some food and other liquid into their diet alongside breastfeeding.
To mark World Breastfeeding Week, UNICEF’s regional office for Eastern and Southern Africa sent five female photographers to Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe to document the experiences of breastfeeding mothers, the challenges they face and the support they receive from their families and communities.
Patricia Mukarakati, 35, breastfeeds her son Emmanuel at their homestead in rural Mutasa district, Manicaland, Zimbabwe, on 10 July 2018. Patricia is HIV positive but exclusively breastfeeds her baby Emmanuel who is now 2 years old. She has two other children that did not breastfeed exclusively, and she testifies how her last born son is growing up healthier even though he is on prescribed medication. UNICEF Zimbabwe has been on a drive in most rural areas in the country spreading the importance of nutrition in newborn babies and the importance and benefits of breastfeeding.
Aline Muhoza feeds papaya to her son, Acensio, in her house in Masaka, Kicukiro, Rwanda, on Wednesday July 11th 2018.
Aline Muhoza holds her 9-month-old son Acensio Tuyishime, as they pose for a photo in their compound in Masaka, Kicukiro, Rwanda, on Wednesday July 11th 2018.
Gina, 24, holds her six-month-old son Rova to warm him, in their house in Antsirabe, Madagascar, on 12 July 2018. Gina has exclusively breastfed Rina since birth. UNICEF are working in Madagascar to promote exclusive breastfeeding for babies up to the age of six months, and complementary breastfeeding up to 2 years of age.
Abongile Mpati breastfeeds her 4 month old son Linothando in her living room while her 3-year-old son Ahlumile (right) plays and her partner Mawethu Nxawe drinks tea, on Monday 9 July 2018, in Zwide, PE, SA. Her 15-year-old sister Nolusindiso (left) helps her out when things get too frantic. One year-old Iminati Rofuze (centre, red hat) gets dropped off at 6:30 every morning. Abongile is a 25 year old mother of 3 and principal of an ECD centre that she runs from the garage of her parent’s house while breastfeeding Linothado full time. UNICEF promotes exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months and complimentary breastfeeding up to 2 years by helping governments address all aspects that stop mothers and babies receiving adequate care and nutrition.
Abongile Mpati hands out food to the children at the ECD centre on Monday 9 July 2018. Abongile is the principal of an Early Childhood Development centre that she runs from the garage of her parents’ house in Zwide outside PE. Abongile is a 25 year old mother of 3 who breastfeeds her 4 month old son, Linothado full time. UNICEF promotes exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months and complimentary breastfeeding up to 2 years by helping governments address all aspects that stop mothers and babies receiving adequate care and nutrition.
Caroline Simatwa, a tea picker, plays with her baby Abigail, at home in Kapkorech Village, Kericho, Kenya, on Tuesday, June 10, 2018. UNICEF is collaborating with the tea company she works for to address all the aspects that stop mothers and babies receiving care and nutrition during the critical 1000-day period. Photo: Arete/Ash Appleton/UNICEF (South Africa)
Maureen Chepkoech, a driver, breastfeeds her baby Kelly Kiprop, at home in Ngoina, Kericho, Kenya, on Tuesday, June 10, 2018. UNICEF is collaborating with her employer a tea company to address all the aspects that stop mothers and babies receiving care and nutrition during the critical 1000-day period. Photo: Arete/Ash Appleton/UNICEF (South Africa)
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