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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Macharia

Addressing The Breastfeeding Puzzle

Breastfeeding is a fundamental aspect of human nature in which mothers nourish their infants. According to WHO, breastfeeding within the first hour of life and exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life are recommended for optimal growth, development, and health.

However, reality often falls short of these recommendations. Despite WHO's guidelines, over a third (37%) of infants in Kenya do not receive breastfeeding within the crucial first hour following delivery. Moreover, merely about 2% of infants are exclusively breastfed for the recommended six months. (Kimani-Murage et al., 2011)

When WHO guidelines for breastfeeding are not followed, the consequences can be significant. Infants may experience weakened immune systems, stunted growth and malnutrition that can hinder a child's development. Addressing these challenges requires comprehensive support for breastfeeding practices.

The first week of August celebrates Breastfeeding Week, an annual event that emphasizes the significance of breastfeeding for infants, mothers, and society as a whole.

Amidst this celebration, an ongoing crisis is evident. This includes reduced breastfeeding rates, insufficient support and education for new mothers, societal stigmatization, workplaces that fail to accommodate breastfeeding needs, and aggressive marketing of infant formula. These elements combine, posing a complex challenge to the essential act of breastfeeding.

To better understand the challenges, Kidogo interviewed mothers in our Kidogo network. These interviews provided a platform for mothers to openly discuss the hurdles they face in breastfeeding. “Stress is the most common (challenge) because stress haunts the child during breastfeeding,” said a Kidogo parent. The testimonials shed light on challenges such as psychological stress and the lack of support from spouses, emphasizing the multifaceted obstacles that mothers encounter on their breastfeeding journey.

During the interview, a parent mentioned that placing her child at Kidogo Daycare has been advantageous for her as it allowed her the opportunity to leave work and breastfeed her child at the daycare during her breaks. “As a parent with a child in the daycare, I used to take a break every three hours to breastfeed for about ten minutes before going back to work.” This arrangement provided a convenient and supportive environment for her to balance her work responsibilities with her commitment to breastfeeding her child.

Have a look at this documentary about the breastfeeding event.

Kidogo's insightful initiative aimed to address and take action on the unique struggles faced by mothers employed within informal sectors, who often lack the privilege of maternity leaves. This circumstance poses a significant challenge to breastfeeding practices among these working mothers. Therefore, On Saturday, August 5th, Kidogo hosted a notable breastfeeding event in Nakuru. The event, centred around the theme 'Let’s make Breastfeeding Work at Work,' had a dual focus: to find practical solutions for addressing these challenges and to provide a forum for the exchange of knowledge on breastfeeding."

The event took place at Heshima Primary School in Nakuru, providing a suitable setting for the occasion. The school's spacious hall proved more than capable of accommodating the unexpectedly large number of attending mothers, estimated to be around 300, a testament to the significance of the event.

A Papapreneur shares his thoughts on role of men in breastfeeding

Esteemed attendees included a diverse array of guests, including nutritional experts, medical practitioners, county officials, and the dedicated members of the Kidogo staff. Their collective presence not only elevated the event but also enriched it with a wealth of knowledge .

The event's interactive element was highlighted by a Q&A session, a valuable opportunity for mothers to directly engage with professionals. For instance, a mother raised an important question about the storage of breast milk. Her child had recently experienced diarrhoea as a result of poor storage of breastmilk. Therefore, she sought advice on how she could store her breast milk during working hours, ensuring it remains safe and nutritious for her child until she returns home for feeding.

This dialogue not only empowered mothers to find practical solutions to their concerns but also fostered a nurturing and educational atmosphere. It cultivated a sense of unity as many of the challenges voiced resonated with fellow mothers, creating a shared understanding.

One of the event's pivotal moments was a live demonstration of breastfeeding, which went beyond theory and addressed the issue of breastfeeding in public areas. This demonstration played a dual role: educating attendees and combating the stigma surrounding breastfeeding in communal spaces.

Amid the proceedings, speeches were delivered, further emphasizing the event's importance and inspiring attendees with insightful perspectives. A dedicated nutritional talk tailored to lactating mothers provided a comprehensive understanding of dietary requirements during this vital stage.

As the event concluded, key takeaways emerged as mothers shared what they had learned. For instance, one mother emphasized learning the importance of setting aside dedicated time for breastfeeding without the need for multitasking. The conclusion was marked by a heartwarming and communal lunch, serving as a fitting culmination to a day of learning, sharing, and solidarity.

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