WHILE Eastern Cape lactation specialists and health officials have acknowledged that bottle-feeding is acceptable, they have reiterated the health benefits of breastfeeding from birth.
Dr Nan Jolly, a lactation consultant, said British journalist Anna Maxted, who bemoaned the ostracisation of bottlefeeding mothers, "might have benefited from encouragement".
Jolly is part of La Leche League, which provides information and support to women who want to breastfeed.
Sharing the benefits of breastfeeding should not be reserved only for developing countries, she said.
"Actually, babies are exposed to the same risks when they are not breastfed in first and third world countries."
Nomawonga Kama, head of the integrated nutrition programme for the Eastern Cape Health Department, believed that if countries like Rwanda could have an 88% breastfeeding rate, so could South Africa.
"We are a country that promotes breastfeeding. HIV-infected mothers are also encouraged to breastfeed their children [because of the health benefits]."
HIV cannot be transmitted by breastfeeding.
Kama said mothers breastfeeding their newborns was on the rise, although there were no recent statistics.
"We encourage mothers who say they have a problem with breastfeeding to ask for help from a healthcare provider. There are primary healthcare workers who can help them with showing them how the baby must latch onto the breast properly," Kama said.