4.6  Benefits of breastfeeding for the community

The benefits of breastfeeding go beyond just having a positive impact for the mother and family. It also has important benefits for the community and therefore the nation. Box 4.4 sets out examples of some of these benefits.

Box 4.4  Benefits of breastfeeding for the community

  • Breastmilk does not require importing formula and utensils, which saves hard currency (money)
  • Healthy babies make a healthy nation
  • Breastfeeding leads to a decrease in the number of childhood illnesses, which leads to decreased national expenditure on treatment. This means that savings are made in the health sector
  • Breastfeeding improves child survival (reduces child morbidity and mortality)
  • An indirect benefit of breastfeeding if it is practised widely is that the environment is protected. This is because trees are not used for firewood to boil water, milk and utensils. Breastmilk is a natural renewable resource.
  • What are the benefits of colostrum to the baby?

  • Colostrum is the first breastmilk produced after delivery. It protects the baby from diseases and it also acts as a cleaning substance (laxative) for the baby’s stomach. It is the equivalent of first immunization of the baby, because of its immunologic factors and high concentration of vitamin A.

  • What is the benefit of breastfeeding to the mother in terms of child spacing?

  • Breastfeeding is more than 98% effective as a contraceptive method during the first six months provided that breastfeeding is exclusive and amenorrhoea persists.

4.5  Benefits of breastfeeding for the family

4.7  Breastfeeding difficulties