On Wednesday last week, I was invited as a studio guest for a health show at a community radio station, where the focus was on breastfeeding. Pamoja FM in Kibera primarily broadcasts to the Kibera community, though its frequencies also reach the wider Langata area.
My host for the show was Shangazi Zam, and basically she asked me to share my breastfeeding experiences –the goods, the bads and the reasons why I choose to breastfeed my sons and more so – my decision to exclusively breastfeed them.
It was quite an interactive show as both my host kept asking me questions, and callers also kept ringing in and asking me all these questions about my experiences. The questions they asked me largely centered around how I maintain my milk supply, how I managed to express milk after returning to work, how I ensured that my boys’ caregiver (housegirl) understood the need to sterilize baby’s feeding equipment and if he ever fell sick with diarrhea or any such ailment, and also how my employer supported me –or not in my breastfeeding quest.
The issue that struck me most from the callers (all women) was about milk supply – especially after they go back to work. Kibera is an urban slum, and many of its inhabitants are low income earners, most of them casual laborers. To fend for their babies, many of them have to return to work even when baby is just weeks or few months old as they don’t have the luxury of a three month paid maternity leave as provided by the law -owing to their casual employment status. And still about milk supply, I am also cognizant of the fact that many households in the area cannot afford to eat three meals a day of a balanced diet, with healthy snacks in between which is the ideal for a nursing mom. Many times breastfeeding becomes hard because if for example she only has one meal a day, her milk supply definitely becomes affected making breastfeeding a tough task for such a mom. So they have to wean the baby at a very tender age -and not at the recommended six months.
But all in all, I was glad to share my story and honestly answer all their questions, hoping I helped some moms out there.
And the show was in Swahili by the way and even though I can’t speak the Swahili of those 7pm news anchors who to me speak Greek in the name of Swahili, I know my Swahili aint too bad. Sio mbaya saaaaana. Atleast it’s not like Kethi Kilonzo’s My Swahili by the way is heavily tainted with an Eastlands accent – it sounds like that one of Juma Masgwembe Masgwembe. Me I talk those ones of “haina nomaaaa…”