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One year on…

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1477930069246It has been a year since she was born! Time does fly; literally. It has also been a year and a month since my dad passed away. While this article features her, Angelica, it is not about her. It is my thank you note to all who have been with me, us for the last one year plus the months I was expecting.

I consider her my strength because of many things. She was conceived at a time when my dad was in his last stages of cancer wars, hospitalized most of the time. It was a challenge not to be depressed, but had to stay sane for her. She brought her own challenges during pregnancy. I had crazy pelvic pains, I was dizzy most of the time, and I could barely stay on my feet for a couple of minutes. I could not travel on my own, I had to request for company any time I needed to go visit my dad in hospital; I even had to get someone to accompany me to do her shopping. My dad passed away when I was 7 and a half months pregnant.  It was rough but she gave me reasons to stay strong. She came five weeks after. She was born when I had not even started mourning his death. How could I mourn?

Amid all this, there were angels who kept me company. Those who traveled with me when I needed to go and see my dad, those who accompanied me when I needed to go to town and do the ordinary things like buy shoes, those who called to check on me, those who prayed with me and for me when I couldn’t pray, those who gave me an intention to pray for when I did not have any, (I don’t know how many times I asked myself what to pray for), the colleagues who exempted me from responsibilities, those who sent me cash to boost whatever we had when the bills were crazy, those who shared a smile, when I had no reason to smile, those who reminded me that there was a reason to be grateful, there always is a reason to be grateful, those who gave me hugs, those who cried literally with me when it was too much to hold inside, those who came to be with us in dads final journey. There is a friend of mine who took leave to come and stay with me the whole week I was home for the funeral arrangements and funeral itself. I appreciate you. You don’t know how much difference you made. By your being, by your presence, by your prayers, I had the energy to sing and dance in the rain.

If you are going through the same, expectant and having it rough, look for reasons to be happy, to smile, no matter how elusive they may seem. Find a reason to fight for that baby you are carrying, find strength in knowing that there is someone literally walking with you, every day and every night. Let the child hug you from within and give you strength to stay sane. Let the child in you, every time they kick, remind you that smiling amid every hardship is possible. If you have a patient, cancer or otherwise, taking care of them personally or someone else is, I can relate to your pain, I can relate with your desperation, I can relate with your hopelessness, I can relate with your looking at God and asking why oh why, I can relate with broke, I can relate with your tears, I can relate with that smile of strength when you are screaming inside, I can relate with the tears you fight back in public, I can relate with that urge to close yourself in and shut the world out. Reach out for help, accept any that is offered. It is in doing so that you allow those who would want to be with you on this journey to actually know how they can help. I have learnt that sometimes people don’t really know what to do to those going through tough times but when you reach out they get a sense of direction. Don’t feel bad if the help from the obvious from your circles is not forthcoming, they could be slaying their own dragons too; accept help from the unexpected sources, these are the angels God has sent to walk with you; avoid traumatizing yourself physically and emotionally. If you would throw yourself and roll when morning, then hold yourself for just one second and hit the pillow instead. Cry if you must, call unto God, and tell Him your hopelessness, but pray. Watching someone you love go down that road, a road of knowledge that they will be gone eventually and knowing that you cannot do anything about it is hard, but there’s something you can do. Pray for that person, that God may prepare their souls for their eventual encounter, that when he eventually dies, he will die in the arms of Christ. There is this prayer that we do not think about often as Catholics,

Yesu, Maria na Yosefu, Nakutoleeni moyo na roho na uzima wangu,

Yesu, Maria na Yosefu, Nijulieni saa ya kuszimia roho yangu,

Yesu, Maria na Yosefu, Nifanyizieni nife mikononi mwenu

You can do this on their behalf. “Ajaliwe kifo chema”. Is it crazy to pray for the salvation of the dying, no! We pray that when they die, their lives will then be truly transformed because, as Christians we believe in death life in not ended, it is changed. Are we wishing them death when we pray for their moment of death, no, we are praying so that they may reconcile themselves with their maker, who loved them before they came to this world, that when they are gone, they may go to He who loved them the most when they lived here on earth and they will be in a state of Grace to see Him face to face.

If you know anyone going through some tough times, someone who has a cancer patient, or any patient all together, or someone who is mourning, someone who has lost hope in themselves, and the world, someone who believes there world has come to an end, strive to be there for them in any way. Extend a shoulder, a smile, a moment of your time, a prayer (lots of prayers), a word of encouragement, a pent-up-energy-release moment, send them some money even without them asking, smile at them, walk with them when they need you, and be kind, offer to do something they need to do. There is a tendency for most people to shut the world out when they are in this state. If they let you in, be the strength they need to walk out of the dark tunnel in a single piece.

I always say that we were not created alone in this world for a reason. As I commemorate my dad’s memorial, I also celebrate my baby’s birthday. I thank God for everything. But more so, for those who walk this life with me, with us, me and mine. We are blessed to have you in our lives. Your contribution to who we have become, and who we will become make us forever indebted.

Happy Birthday Angelica…

It is also the feast day of St. Rose of Lima, Happy feast day my Sister Rose…

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Roho ya muumini Marehemu Yohane, apate rehema kwa Mungu, Apumzike kwa Amani, Amina.

 

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Superwoman…

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MamahoodWe all have heard that woman are great, women can carry a million and one things on their shoulders and not flinch, that they can smile with tears on their faces and they carry a multitude of secrets in their hearts… Well there is one breed of a woman who definitely takes the crow. A woman called MOTHER…

I have been wondering how they actually survive, especially when the children are still under five. A typical Nairobi lifestyle demands  a “Five to Eight” kind of work environment, where you leave the house and five in the morning and return at eight in the evening. Work demands are varied with deadlines to meet, crazy bosses to deal with and keeping yourself concentrating on the job. When a mother gets home, they have to deal with hyper active toddlers, homework, and at night they can be awake half the night because, John had a nightmare and Jerry could not sleep and breastfed the whole night and Katie had fever that needed monitoring. And in the morning the cycle begins all over.

Wake up at four, dress up and go to work and be 100% productive. That is just basic family unit. Add the crazy tout who yelled at her, a friend who she needs to hook up because she needs a shoulder to cry on, a mum who is unwell, brothers and sisters who need scorning, a graduating relative, a bereaved neighbor, the careless driver who dented her car, the cop or “Kidero cop” who took her in for questioning on some unidentifiable offence, and the list goes on.

Well, if you ever catch her gesticulating, smiling sheepishly on the street, bad hair day, screaming at you for no particular reason, staring blankly or just on a 3% conversation concentration, give her a break. she needs it. She will bounce back in no time. but for just a second, let her retreat to a world only she lives in. The world of being a super person.

HATS OFF to all mothers out there who brave the world with a smile each day. Celebrate yourself often because, only God really understands what you go through in the motherhood journey.

5 things to remember when your child gets a seizure/ Convulses

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Child

Mom monitoring a seizure in a child

The first time I heard of Epilepsy, was in a first aid class I helped organize for a group of pro-life students in 2003 when I was in college. And of course it rarely concerns you until it hits home… You will read a lot of the seizures, the types, and one thing you will realize is, most common child seizures are caused by fever. Of course there are those that just happen, and doctors brand them atypical, but in simple terms, that is just epilepsy. Your child has a seizure whose cause cannot be explained, then they have epilepsy. It is a big and scary word. And traumatizing. But it is actually scarier to watch your child convulse. Having witnessed 2 in a span of 6 months, I am no expert, but I have a tip or two to share if you ever find yourself in my shoes. This may not be limited to children, but if you ever be in a place where one is having a seizure, the procedure of what you need to do more or less remains the same.

A typical -grand mal- seizure more or less takes place in the same way or follows the same pattern. The casualty stretches out, goes rigid and falls, then jerking movements, then often but not always grinding of teeth, then sleep. Each phase takes different lenth of time. One seizure may not necessarily take as long s the one before, or one stage may take longer or shorter time than the previous one. Here is waht you do:-

  1. Thou shall not panic:- As a parent watching your child going through all that , the first instinct is, scream, pick up the child and run to hospital. I did that and when I got to hospital, I was asked questions I could not answer. So as a parent or observer, it is your time to be most sane. Everything that you are going to observe in the next few seconds to a few minutes counts in terms of what diagnosis and tests will be given to your child. Don’t panic, no matter how hard it sounds.
  2. Get a soft landing:- By this I mean, remove the danger from the casualty or remove the casualty from danger, whichever is easier. If it is a child, place them on a soft bed or couch or put something soft under them. This will ensure that when they jerk they do not injure themselves further. If the casualty is an adult, break the fall. Hold them as they fall, ensure the ground around them is free of stones, sharp object etc. Do not try to wedge the child’s mouth open or place an object between the teeth, and do not attempt to restrain movements (seizurekids.com). This should also apply to adults as well.
  3. Take note of what happens while the person is in the fit:- One thing you will sure be asked when you get to hospital is “Describe the seizure”. How will you describe if you did not observe? Take note of the times of each phase. How long did the casualty stretch or was stiff, how long did the jerking movements take, how were the jerks, just the hands or both hands and feet, how long did they sleep immediately after the seizure? Most importantly, check for fever.
  4. When they fall asleep,now do what you were to do in the panic state:- After seizure, the casualty sleeps. Now you can panic. Run to your room, get your wallet and baby bag, call a cab, run out of the door and call the neighbor. Get to hospital. Whatever you do, make sure you get you child to hospital especially if it is the first seizure. As soon as possible. After all the 3 above are done. If it is a subsequent one, you probably already have a neurologist, call them, inform them, schedule a check up with them.
  5. Be ready for the checks:- While you are riding to hospital, prepare yourself psychologically for the check ups. Once you get to the hospital, you will answer on what you noted on the above. Was the child on medication, remember the names of the medication he was on. Is there a history of epilepsy in your family? If it is the first convulsion, and there was no fever, and the above checks out as okay according to the doctor seeing you, they will do a lot of blood checks. They check for infections, blood sugar among many other things. If that comes out negative, they will do a head scan to check for trauma (read injuries to the head). They will actually tell you to hold the child as he goes into that machine. Its a tough journey. If that comes out normal, they will admit the child and monitor. when they rule out the possibility of a second seizure, you will be advised to go home and of course return if a second seizure does occur for a brain activity test called EEG. After this they will put the child on medication until their 6th birthday.

I am not writing this as a medic.Just as a parent trying to help a another parent who is going to go through the same or going through the same. It may sound tough that you have to act and seem like you have no feelings for your child, but the information you relay to the doctor is so crucial to your child’s well being and diagnosis. Trust God to see you through the desperate times, be strong for your child and be there for them when they do not seem to be fathoming what is happening in their tender lives. Perhaps my next big challenge next will be when he goes to school. I am not afraid, it is well in Christ. It always is…

Finally, you will realize I have used the word casualty when describing what you need to do. It is not because they cease to be your child when it happens, but because you must disassociate yourself with the mushy feelings of motherhood, you must choose to act as opposed to weep or scream, you must choose to be sane as opposed to emotional. Mushiness may cloud your judgment. Panic will prevent you from noting what needs to be noted. Detaching yourself may work, if only for that short while when your sanity is so called for.

The 5 must-haves in that baby bag…

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Baby bagOnce a  mama realizes they are expecting, the next big thing is shopping (well, besides the regular check ups by your gynae or hospital clinic nurses). One item usually on top of the list is the baby bag. You have bought the baby bag, baby is here, you need to take baby to clinic, ow, what needs to go to the baby bag., there goes the first panic confusion.

I will highlight a few things that are important to pack in that baby bag, depending on the age of your child.

  1. Baby clothes:- In my short time of parenting, I have learnt that a baby will give you enough oops moments. You will undress the baby for weight checking and well, the freedom gives them a good feeling that they feel its time to relax all the muscles, including bowel and urinary tract ones. And they do it very excitedly, and smile at you afterwards. And he soils all his clothes. Grrrr. Well, no matter how close the clinic is from your house, make sure you pack a change of clothes. Two sets if your child is under six months and a set if he is above. Pack the same if you are going to church, to visit your friend, where baby goes, the sets of change of clothes go. A set for me was a roamper, and a onesie when they were under six, and a trouser, T-shirt and onesie now. When its cold, I add a vest to the set collection. I always carry one jacket, regardless of the weather. Even if you are staying for just one hour. The little angels have a way of surprising you.
  2. Diapers :- My baby is unwell, I take him to hospital and somewhere in the background a mama is asking if the hospital gives diapers. I look closely and she has an 8-10 month baby on her arms and no bag at all. I am not judging, but I want all of us to learn that children poop does not have a schedule and they pick an infection in a blink of an eye. Pack 4-5 diapers if your baby is under six months and 3 afterwards.
  3. Nappy liners:- But why and am not using nappies? Well, because you need something to wipe your baby, yourself and the person sitting next to you if baby spits or pukes. I find them very absorbent and light enough to carry around. Pack 2-3.
  4. Food:- When children are under six months, we worry when we leave them because we pack food (read breast milk) they will consume when they are away. When they are weaned, we worry when we carry them around, because you must have their meal plans in your bag, depending on age. Whatever you schedule for them to eat, pack it, if you have the insulation bags, the better, means food wont get cold. Breast milk is no longer enough and it is not a guarantee that you will be in a position to buy good baby friendly food wherever you are going. Its not much of a hustle, just pack, carry and feed baby when they demand. And yes, no one will chase you at of a restaurant for feeding baby with their packed food. The no food from outside does not apply here.
  5. Baby wrap:- By this, I do not mean toto wrap to carry baby around. I mean, something to cover baby with when they fall asleep. Not necessarily to do that but to place under them when you are changing. Be it a leso or shawl or cot sheet, something that baby can lie on when you are changing or sleep on when they are asleep and u are at your friend’s visiting.

But this is a lot to carry… Yes, it may seem a lot to carry and sometimes I find myself debating if I need all this when I am leaving the house, but I think of the oops moments and it is totally worth the heavy load. You may look like you carried the whole house and you are leaving for just two hours, but I have learnt that two hours for a child can be eternity. Be safe, or face the wrath of the community, when they yell at you. No, that shouldn’t be the reason, but you will be at peace and if the oops moment comes, because they do come,  you will be ready. All in all, we are used to carrying a lot of paraphernalia we don’t need in our hand bags. When baby is here, handbag is AOB, just make sure you have your wallet and hankie. Period.

Article 43:- Is there a formula for coping with labor pains?…

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labor_pains

On the 2nd of September 2015, was my fourth time in the labor ward. No, I don’t have four children of my own, not yet, maybe someday, by the Grace of God. Twice, I have been there on other people’s account. One thing that has always brought joy and a tear to my face on all the four occasions is the first cry of a new born child. Doctors will tell you that a baby must cry when they land in this world. I guess it is a magical cry born of this fact, but it is a moment out of this world. That is not the intent of this article.

Being in that labor ward reminded me of my own moments.  After a preterm labor at 35 weeks scare and a highly monitored delicate 4-week bed rest, I was finally induced at week 39. I remember my doctor’s talk before the induction process. He told me that there was 50% chance I would end up in a theatre. He told me to expect pain, and being induced the scale of pain goes up, say in a scale of one to ten, from 4 to 8. He told me to cooperate with the hospital staff. And the scary part, he told me in active labor, the cervix opens at the rate of 1cm every 1.5 hours, you can extrapolate how long that is going to be. I can recall the first quarter of Misoprostol tablet being inserted at 11am, then the next being put under my tongue at 5Pm. Then the cramps beginning, the water breaking, being rushed from the ward to the labor ward, the puking all through my labor (I must confess it helped with coping with the pain though), the periodic excruciating moments and the in-betweens where I could doze off (unimaginable-right), the helpful nurses who kept rubbing my back. Then walking into the delivery room, and the nurses urging me to push, and then he was out. Then they held him and asked me, “boy or girl?” and in my daze I answer, boy. He did not cry, so he was slapped a bit. Then he did. A small voice, but a cry alright. And everything was alright, we had pulled through. God had made the moment count. They cleaned him up, and brought him to me and the first words I ever said to him, God bless you my boy, and I put a sign of the cross on his forehead with my thumb. I remember every moment. Most people don’t . But I remember because one other thing my doctor told me was, regardless of the pain, stay sane. And sane I tried to stay. 9 hours later, I got the privilege of listening to my boy’s first cry. It is the best sound any mother will ever hear. Through the whole process I learnt to appreciate that birth is a Godly process. I have always known that, I have told my friends that, but mostly, I have believed it. Labor is different for every woman, and birth process as different as the number of children in this world. Tutorials have been developed on how to manage labor, classes of the same are taught, but when all is done, when you enter into that labor ward, it is you, your child and God. The rest of the people, even the doctors are spectators. I include the child because; even that child is in labor with you, literally. The child must bear the stress of the contractions for as long as the labor lasts. Some don’t and get distressed and they must be removed from the womb in the fastest way possible. Some mothers don’t either, they get fatigued and the mother and child must be separated and each attended to differently to ensure their safety. Others, in the process, either or both mother and child go to be with the lord.

I know many myths that have been said about labor, for instance, if your shoe size is less than five, your child is too big, you are short, and then you will end up in CS. I remember the labor stories that have lasted 30 minutes, others 36 hours.  I remember my niece being told she has a condition called Cephalo-pelvic Disproportion (CPD) and CS was inevitable. I remember reading somewhere that a woman who has brought forth a child into this world has been close to death. I remember the helplessness of the moment when you can call all the ancestors, angel’s saints, bash the walls, push beds scream abuses and anything crazier than crazy that you will never know you did, because in that moment, you are in your own world. I remember all this and my conclusion is one, it is a Godly process, just like conception is. He decides which sperm and which ovum becomes that baby, He defines when that baby graces this world, and no matter how much we want to convince ourselves of how much control we have over our life, He determines how they come.  He decides whether both mother and child lives. Not because He is a mean God, but because all of us are in this world for a purpose, and if our purpose is accomplished when we bring forth that child into this world, then we go back and be with Him who loves us most.

Many first time mothers, well even fifth time ones will have anxiety especially as the d-day approaches. This is because all of us have an intrinsic fear of imminent pain. Some women, out of the fear of the same opt for elective CS, or epidurals. Other developments have also come up in a bid to make the process as painless as possible. Many women will ask how to cope with the pain and there are enough videos online on how to make things easier. I do not have a formula for coping, or even a guide on how someone should cope with pain. I do not have a how to for my next birth. All I know is, birth process is a miracle. Whichever way the child lands into this world, it is a miracle. Holding that little person in your arms for the first time is magical. And a privilege we should forever thank God for. I can equate it to walking into a path you know not how long it is, or where it leads, but knowing that it is a path you must walk. You must walk it because you must. You can only imagine, pray and hop for an outcome that seems obvious. Whatever happens in between, only God knows. Does it mean that you should not prepare for labor, no. Go for Lamaze if you believe it will help, practice breathing, get a birth partner, do everything that you believe will help it be smoother for you. Walk, exercise your pelvic floor muscles, watch the videos, talk to your doctor, involve your spouse, do everything humanly possible, but most of all pray, surrender it all to God, because it is God who orders life. And He decided that children should land into this world as they do, well maybe humanity played a role, but it was His verdict. Pray for the safety of both of you.

Article 42:- Breastfeeding/Nursing – What to wear…

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Nursing mum in a nursing top

Ya mama, ya bamba…

One of the very fascinating things we women love to do is look in our wardrobes, choose a set what to wear; wear it; look at ourselves in the mirror then decide; Nooo! I don’t look great enough for the day ahead; so we goes back into the wardrobe, chooses another set, and the cycle goes on until we can find something perfect for that day. Frustration comes when what your choices are limited, because you are a few days post partum and in your new baby-fat weight you can only fit in 2% of what is in your wardrobe and hey, you are breastfeeding, so whatever you wear must be able to accommodate that. Most of us end up in wearing old oversize tees and buggy trousers most probably belonging to our spouses (if they are bigger than you).

Anyhow, when I started breastfeeding getting what to wear was really frustrating. It always got more complicated when going to church. I used to look at my dresses and wonder, why oh why can’t I wear any of them. Well it’s because at some point in the middle of mass, your baby will cry needing a feed. And there begins the struggle of boob extraction, trying to cover your back so that you are not exposed, trying to calm the baby with the boob and not choke them in the rush, then try and cover your boob too. Drama! Oh what goes first! By the time you are done, you have a minimum of ten pairs of eyes staring at you because you and baby just disrupted the juiciest part of the sermon. All I ended up wearing was two skirts I could still fit in and a few blouses and always a sweater on top, irregardless of the weather (so u ensure your back is sorted). Few churches provide for a baby place where mothers can go and nurse, once its done you can go back to church. Its sad because, maybe that which you  miss in the process is what was meant to be food for your soul that week.

When I could extract myself from 100% baby bonding and could do something else, I went on-line searching for options that would allow me to do this noble responsibility comfortably and still look good while at it. I developed my own solutions and I hope a mama can be helped out there.

First of all when I got expectant, I custom made my own pregnancy skirts. I knew that growing was inevitable, so I designed something with a stretchy fabric at the waist line and straight all the way down. I wore my skirts all through my pregnancy. I also designed them in a way that I could dart them and wear them post pregnancy. I was a perfect solution for the time when weight gain is overnight-literally and weight loss is drastic.  Also had one dress I designed when I was around 2 months pregnant. It could take in my weight all through. I still wear it, 1.5 years post partum.

Second,  I also discovered that alternatives design for clothes exist for breastfeeding women, both dresses and tops. I currently have stocked a couple and are available for sale. They allow you to nurse comfortably without having to expose your boob or back. They can also be worn to work as part of that suit and allow you to express comfortably. You can custom make your own dress that you will wear during your pregnancy, breastfeed in it, go to work in it and express and wear them to those casual outings and be comfortable and look good. The beauty of it is, you can dress your bump in the same wear, and wear it post partum.

simple_pregancy_women_wear_nursing_clothing_cheap  simple_pregancy_women_wear_nursing_clothing_cheap 1

long_sleeve_pregnant_dress_nursing_formal_dresses (1) long_sleeve_pregnant_dress_nursing_formal_dresses

Dress your bump, breastfeed with it later ( The beauty of elasthane)

I will attach a few sample photos and allow you to look at the beautiful side of breastfeeding where you can look fabulous and breastfeed. The trick is getting the right fabric. (Photos courtesy of Angel Solutions)

Casual outfit for nursing mum

Casual, ready for outdoor activity with baby

Nursing top, casual setting

Casual

Official in nursing top ready t express

Official and ready to express, hurray working mum!

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Lets get some work done…

Cheers mums to wonderful moments with your child.

Article 41 :- Exclusive Breastfeeding…

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Ya-mama-ta-bamba-image-1

One time you are walking like a duck because your tummy is quite big, you can never imagine you will ever touch your toes again; next moment, you have this little, most beautiful littlest human being in your arms and somewhere in your subconscious, you hear a nurse tell you, “mama, you need to breastfeed your baby”. And breastfeed you must, not because there is a manual on how to breastfeed, but because somehow, deep in your soul, you know how it is done, and you bring your baby to your breast, and they begin to nurse, and there begins your six month journey of you and baby and being the only sole provider of its first fastest food.

Deep in my heart, I knew I always wanted to be someone’s mum. Deep in my heart, I always knew, I would exclusively breastfeed, not because I knew the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding but because I knew it’s one of the best bonding moments between a mother and child. It was a special thing that only my child and I could experience. When you look into those innocent eyes and discover the true meaning of ultimate trust. When you know that, when they sit on your lap and lay their head in the crook of your arms, it’s the most comfortable position they know and in their minds they can stay there forever, and the clingy ones actually do try that forever, when the only world they know is the brightness in your eyes and the smell of your clothing, and for them that is enough. That is the magic of breastfeeding!

WHO and American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months (26 weeks) to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, they should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.

Breast milk is best for your baby, and the benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition. In addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life, breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness. Numerous studies from around the world have shown that stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear infections, gastrointestinal infection and meningitis occur less often in breastfed babies and are less severe when they do happen. Exclusive breastfeeding (meaning no solid food, formula, or water) for at least six months seems to offer the most protection). According to Baby Center the main immune factor at work here is a substance called secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) that’s present in large amounts in colostrum, the first milk your body produces for your baby. (Secretory IgA is present in lower concentrations in mature breast milk.) The substance guards against invading germs by forming a protective layer on the mucous membranes in your baby’s intestines, nose, and throat. Breastfeeding our little ones also allows for development of a protective layer along their intestinal tract preventing food allergies caused by inflammations. This layer’s growth cannot be facilitated by even formula; the substance, whatever scientists call it is only found in colostrums. Breastfeeding protects a child from obesity. This can be attributed to the following; Breastfed babies have more leptin in their system, a hormone that researchers believe plays a role in regulating appetite and fat; Breast milk contains less insulin than formula. (Insulin stimulates the creation of fat.) Breastfed babies are better at eating until their hunger is satisfied, leading to healthier eating patterns as they grow; and finally, just like breast milk of a specific mother is specific to their child in terms of nutrient constitution, they say a mother’s body can respond to its child when it is full (debatable), so it stops producing more milk . It implies that, a child can latch for an hour but breast milk stops flowing when the child is satisfied, the other part of latching is solely for bonding.

For mothers, breastfeeding leads more rapid maternal weight loss after birth, lowers stress levels hence lower risks of post partum depression (many women report feeling relaxed while breastfeeding. That’s because nursing triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin. Numerous studies in animals and humans have found that oxytocin promotes nurturing and relaxation), reduces risks of breast and ovarian cancer, and delayed return of menstrual periods. Other obvious benefits are It’s free; It’s available whenever and wherever your baby needs a feed; It’s the right temperature; It builds a strong physical and emotional bond between mother and baby. Finally, Breast milk adapts as your baby grows to meet your baby’s changing needs.

Breastfeeding is natural – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy. In fact, most mothers will tell you it is not easy. From little or no milk, to sore breasts, to outright fatigue for those whose babies are great feeders like my boy.  Being a working mother doubles the challenge. Complications at birth that make it hard for a mother to breastfeed the first few hours post partum which contributes immensely to breast milk flow messes things up further, making mothers have little milk, hence opting for formula or early weaning.  However, amidst all these challenges, many women have risen to the challenge and managed to feed their children for six months exclusively on breast milk and avoid giving their babies packet/cow milk for up to one year. Mad respect to women ha! Yes, mad respect to the women who have to content with expressing, stocking, pouring out when power fails and milk thaws, rushing home at much to just do this noble curse, eat very funny tasting foods and drinks in the name of boosting this one substance very necessary for their babies, the wars they will fight for privacy in the office to express, and even amid all the hustles is the realization that stored milk cannot equal the directly suckled milk, there is loss of nutrients in freezing, thawing and of course in warming; a toast to all of us for the selflessness.

For those who did not make it, and will not make it, due to factors beyond their control, well, children are beyond us. They have a creator who watches over them. We are just His custodians. They are with us on a temporary custody, before they go to fulfill the mission they were created to; all we can ever do is our best for them. And one thing I am sure is, we do our best as mothers, always…

In as much as there is no manual on how to breastfeed, when that child land on our hands, lets breastfeed breastfeed, breastfeed. I remember the nurses who kept telling me to keep breastfeeding a few minutes after delivery, yes, a few minutes, and I thank them because my flow, in as much as it was not “fresian”, it was sufficient for my boy for those first crucial months.

Finally, there is a difference between exclusive breastfeeding, and exclusive feeding on breast milk. When I started out, I wanted to achieve the former but then again, I am a working mom so, most of us end up doing the latter. Meaning, we express, then feed from a bottle, or cup and spoon. I pen off…

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