EXCLUSIVE BREASTFEEDING

The best way to nurture healthy babies

Two women share their experiences with motherhood, one who practised exclusive breastfeeding and another who did not.

In Summary

• To maximise nutrition and boost immunity, mothers should exclusively breastfeed their children for at least six months.

• Canned milk has measurements on how you would be required to mix it with water to make it ready for baby’s intake. But many mothers who use canned milk tend to overdilute so it lasts longer.

When Khadija Abdallah, a mother in Mombasa, had her first baby, she was determined to practise exclusive breastfeeding. However, she faced problems that almost made her divert from her goals.

She had an inward nipple on one breast, making it hard for her baby to get a grip of it. The other breast used to tear up, making it really painful trying to get milk out of it.

“You need to be committed because this should be your decision,” she says. “If I was able to breastfeed my baby exclusively for six months with only one breast, then any mother can do it,” Khadija said.

The mother of two says breastfeeding is important for her children's health. She has two daughters, one two and another five months old, and she has used exclusive breastfeeding to ensure they have all the nutrients they need.

She was set on achieving this even if she is employed and has a tight schedule at work. It is always challenging to sustain it, but she says where there is a will there is a way.

If you calculate the amount of money a mother would have to spend on buying milk supplements, you will find that breastfeeding is easier
Mother Khadija Abdallah

HOW TO ACHIEVE IT

Reducing stress, getting the connection between you and your child and relaxing are some of the tips Abdallah uses to ensure she attains her goal.

 

It requires a lot of discipline but saves one money. “If you calculate the amount of money a mother would have to use to buy milk supplements and how much she would use to breastfeed, you will find that buying supplements is quite expensive,” she said.

Abdallah estimates that a mother would have to spend more than Sh4,000 per week to buy canned milk for the child.

Moreover, canned milk has measurements on how you would be required to mix it with water to make it ready for baby’s intake. But many mothers who use canned milk tend to overdilute so it lasts longer. This, she says, puts the baby at risk of not getting the required nutrients.

 

From her tight schedule at work, Abdallah ensures she expresses every time she feels she has excess milk, so that her child would not miss her feed.

She also ensures she wakes up very early so she can get enough time to express her breastmilk and store it in a fridge so it lasts a day or two.

She is happy that her boss at work is understanding. She is allowed to be out of work at around 12pm so she can rash back home to feed her child.

Above all, she advises that a busy schedule at work should never be a reason for one to say it is impossible to breastfeed exclusively.

I remember my child crying a lot. I was told it is because she is not satisfied with my breastmilk, that there was too little to satisfy her, so I started to give her soft porridge at three months
Mother Salma Said

EARLY WEANING REGRET

Upon listening to testimonials from different mothers, Salma Said, a mother of one also from Mombasa, regrets not practising exclusive breastfeeding. She says she will do it when she is blessed with another child.

She thought with breastfeeding, the child does not get enough to satisfy her since she was often crying. Pressure from family members, especially her mother-in-law, pushed her to give her supplements before the six months were up.

“I always thought that it is not possible to do exclusive breastfeeding and the family I stay with reinforced this, despite the nurses telling me to ensure I do it,” Said said.

She recalls being told by her family members not to reveal to the nurses that she was giving supplements to her child when she goes for her monthly clinic visits, lest she gets scolded.

The first time she gave her baby something other than breastmilk, the child was just one month old. The baby was unable to defecate and all she did was cry morning through night. She was then advised to give the infant fresh orange juice, which she was told would help.

At three months, her child was introduced to soft porridge. Said was unable to buy canned milk for the baby because it was too expensive for her. She saw that some porridge was much cheaper to prepare and also her child would get satisfied and get some good sleep.

“I remember my child crying a lot. I was told by my mother-in-law that it is because she is not satisfied with my breastmilk, that there was too little to satisfy her, so I started to give her soft porridge at three months,” she said.

Now she is past that. Her child is two years old, but she wished time would go back so she could give the baby breastmilk exclusively for six months.

Though her child is healthy, she still feels if she could have breastfed exclusively, the child would be even healthier and would have benefited more.

Hearing that mothers can do it while having a busy schedule has given her hope, and she says she will not repeat such a mistake when she gets other children.

BREASTFEEDING CENTRE OPENED

On March 26, Mombasa county launched a breastfeeding room at Huduma Centre purposely to encourage mothers to practise exclusive breastfeeding. The room can accommodate three to four mothers at a time.

Many breastfeeding mothers usually find it hard to breastfeed publicly, but the feeding room is meant to create some privacy, where mothers would feel confident to breastfeed. 

It is believed to be the first facility in the country, and it was set at the centre because this is where many people come to seek services, many of them mothers with children going to register for a birth certificate.

Health executive Hazel Koitaba said mothers in the county have embraced the exclusive breastfeeding and are at 70 per cent.

The county’s expectation is to reach the World Health Organization target of 80%.

“Mombasa right now is at 70 per cent in terms of exclusive breastfeeding mothers, and the WHO recommended number is 80 per cent, so we are doing very well. I believe with this breastfeeding centre, we will increase that number and reach the recommended level,” Koitaba said.

The county has engaged several companies to consider having breastfeeding centres, including EPZs.

“Most employees are women. Out of 1,600 employees, 1,000 are women,” the executive said, emphasising the importance of such centres in public places.

The facility also has a fridge, which enables one to store their milk for later use.

Pauline Akoth, a mother and a staff at the Huduma Centre who is practising exclusive breastfeeding, said she is now hopeful that she can accomplish her goal of exclusively breastfeeding her four-month-old child.

She said before the centre came into being, she had challenges with breastfeeding. Now she can express her milk at any time she feels like confidently and store it so she can take it back home for her child to drink.

“Immediately I arrive at work, I express my milk first and store it and then I serve the clients freely,” Akoth said.

Jackline Mrone, a client at Huduma Centre, said the facility will be helpful to mothers who visit the place.

“It was hard to come to this facility while you have a child and you want to breastfeed. It is very uncomfortable but now one can breastfeed freely in this room,” Mrone said.