Monday, 24 August 2015

‘I wish I could give breast milk to all the babies who need it”

Donor mom, Lungile Kubheka
Photo: Wendy Khumalo
August 7

Madadeni: Eighteen-year-old Lungile Kubheka’s daughter was born at only 30 weeks but the upside of this, she says, was that it gave her the opportunity to help other needy babies.
Lungile’s baby has been in the Intensive Care Unit at Newcastle Hospital since she was born two weeks ago. “I thank God because if she wasn’t premature, I wouldn’t have been stuck in the hospital and had the chance to donate my breast milk.” Lungile, who comes from a farm in Manzama, KwaZulu Natal, finished matric last year. After giving birth, she was told about the Human Milk Bank at the hospital. She jumped at the chance to donate. “I wanted to help babies that don’t have mothers and the kids whose mothers don’t have milk.” Lungile explains the process: “They tested me for HIV and then they gave me a donor number. I wash my hands and I take the cup and express my milk into it. Then I close the cup and I write my name and my donor number on some tape and put it on the cup. Then I put the cup in the fridge.”
Even though her baby is tiny, “she is doing fine”.
“Every hour and thirty minutes I go and see her. I feed her my expressed milk with a tube. I know how good breast milk so that is why I want every baby to have it.
“The good thing is that the more milk you express, the more you produce. So you don’t have to worry about whether your baby won’t get enough.
“I wish I could give breast milk to all babies who need it.”

Taking the message to the community

August 7

Madadeni: Breastfeeding Week 2015 was celebrated in the Amajuba district in north-west KwaZulu Natal with a lively community event aimed at raising awareness of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and of the implementation of the Human Milk Bank at Newcastle Hospital.
 “The broader goal is to reduce child malnutrition and mortality,” explained Ms Sindisiwe Mchunu, nutrition co-ordinator of Amajuba District.
“The rate of breastfeeding after delivery is very high – 90% and above - but after discharge from hospital, most mothers are not practicing exclusive breastfeeding and that is our challenge,” said Ms Mchnu. “The rate of exclusive breastfeeding is very low: only 8%. This has contributed to high rates of malnutrition in our district.
“Last year (2014/2015), the number of admissions for severe acute malnutrition was above 200, compared to 155 in 2013/2014. So every year, there is an increase.
“If we get 200 coming to hospital, how many more are there in the communities? We see children as young as two months with malnutrition. We think that if we get breastfeeding right, we can get that right.”
The event was attended by around 300 men and women of all ages.  This was deliberate, explained Ms Mchunu, as care is often shared by members of the family.
“We had focus group discussions last year which showed that when mothers have to go back to work or to school, that is when exclusive breastfeeding stops. We need to target not just the mother but the community as a whole. This means gogos and mkhulus.”
Ms Lungile Kubheka, an 18-year-old donor mother, gave a moving account of how she is donating her breastmilk to the Human Milk Bank at Newcastle Hospital.
Short dramas enacted by Mixed Media showing the everyday obstacles encountered by nursing mothers had the audience in fits of laughter.  Umbrellas, baby beanies and cooler bags with the pink and white Made by Mom branding were distributed to those who correctly answered questions about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and human milk banking.
In a room at the back of the hall, nurses from the Newcastle Hospital offered a full range of community services including immunization and growth monitoring for children; screening for HIV, diabetes and hypertension as well as family planning.
“When we get people together like this, we use the opportunity to provide every service we possibly can,” explained Ms Mchunu.