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Kala Azar Disease in Turkana

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Termite mound in Turkana.

*On a cloudy Thursday morning, a mother stands beside her 11 year old son as he lies on the cold floor of a health center in Namoruputh location, Loima district in Turkana County. The boy is too weak, unable to sit up or stand on his own.

Epyot Etaba and his mother have been at the health center for the last four weeks where he has been receiving treatment for his failing health. Getting to the health center was not an easy journey for mother and son as the transport and communication network in Namoruputh is poor. The roads are inexistent and most residents have to walk long distances to seek basic services, including healthcare.

Weak and unable to walk on his own, Epyot’s mother had carried him on her back, trekking over the dry and rough terrain in the hot weather. It is a journey that took them five agonizing days.

A health worker at Namoruputh Health Center explains the state in which Epyot arrived at the facility.

“He was completely dehydrated, emaciated and with severe malnutrition. His lips were parched, he was dirty and barely conscious. He and his mother had not eaten for days.”

The health worker also noted that Epyot’s abdomen was swollen and his skin filled with burn wounds, which appeared to be septic. Even before embarking on any medical tests, she already appeared to know what Epyot was ailing from.

“I knew that he was suffering from a rare disease called Visceral Leishmaniasis, which is also known as Kala Azar,” she says.

Kala Azar is listed by the World Health Organization as one of the 17 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). These are a diverse group of diseases with distinct characteristics that are common among the poorest people.

Kala Azar is transmitted through the bites of infected female sandflies. Sand flies are common in areas where the land is dry and hot, there is livestock and there are termite mounds.

Having never been to school, Epyot and his family are pastoralists. They spend their days grazing their cows, goats and camels moving from place to place in search of pasture and water. The areas they roam are dry, hot and filled with hundreds of termite mounds –the perfect habitat for sand flies.

Symptoms of the disease include high fever, weight loss, fatigue, general weakness and anaemia. As the infection spreads, it affects some organs such as the skin, liver, spleen and bone marrow. Most Kala Azar patients develop an enlarged abdomen –caused by the swollen liver and spleen. If left untreated, Kala Azar could be fatal. But even when faced with glaring health conditions which would need immediate medical attention, various obstacles make it difficult for populations affected by this disease to do so. This is because they live in areas of high poverty that are underdeveloped with little or no infrastructure.

“Health centers are few and far apart, which forces residents to walk for tens of kilometres to reach the nearest health facility, says the health worker.

Economic factors, strong cultural practices and low education levels also add on to the health challenges among these communities. Because of these factors, pastoralist communities device their own treatment methods for various health ailments.

A clinical officer at Namoruputh Health Center describes how some of the community members try to treat Kala Azar.

“They take camel dung lumps and burn them in the fire until they become red hot briquettes. They then take the hot coals and press them onto the enlarged abdomen of the sick person, in the belief that the germs in the stomach will be destroyed. They also cut the skin around the abdomen it with a sharp razor blade and as the blood gushes out, they believe the germs causing the stomach to swell exit together with the blood,” he says.

But the swelling never goes down. In fact, the hot burns cause raw wounds and in most cases, become septic. Children are not spared from these forms of painful traditional ‘treatment’.

A child’s health can deteriorate more quickly than that of an adult. If immediate medical treatment is not sought, the child can lose his life in no time. Unfortunately, because of health centers being far away, unavailability of transport and ignorance, many children suffering from Kala Azar die in their homes.

Thankfully though for Epyot, he had managed to reach the health center just in time. But this was after failed attempts by his family to offer him the traditional ‘treatment’. Epyot had had his abdomen burnt with hot camel dung briquettes in the hope of healing him. But the treatment had not worked and in a last bid to save his life, his mother had carried the frail boy on her back to the Namoruputh Health Center, in a journey that took them five days.

“Because he arrived here dehydrated and emaciated, we had to first put him on a meal of specialized nutritious porridge to try boost his immunity. The porridge is made of 65 per cent corn, 25 per cent soya and 10 per cent sugar and which is then mixed with powdered milk. We also put him on daily iron and folic acid supplements because he was anaemic,” says the health worker, who adds that Epyot also began immediate treatment for the glaring septic wounds on his abdomen.

Despite his weakness, Epyot is on his way to recovery, having been on Kala Azar treatment for the last two weeks, and which will go on for another two weeks. He is on a drug called sodium stibogluconate (SSB), which is a 30 day course administered intravenously.

“It is a regimen that must be strictly adhered to. We discourage patients from returning home before the treatment is over because they will default, and this could lead to their death. Besides, most of them live far away so it only makes sense for them to remain here until they complete the treatment course,” says the health worker.

Namoruputh Health Center does not have an in-patient capacity, but because of the treatment requirements for Kala Azar, patients make do with sleeping on the floors in the consultation rooms or on the veranda of the hospital.

Kala Azar is an expensive condition to treat, and it requires about 120,000 shillings for one patient. Aside from a basic consultation fee, Kala Azar patients at the Namoruputh Health Center do not have to pay any other treatment costs, offering families great relief.

So as Epyot recovers from an infection that threatens his livelihood, it only points out to various issues faced by pastoralist communities especially where health care is concerned. However, there is hope because with the devolved system of government which also includes devolvement of health services, it is expected that county governments will be able to address some of these challenges and offer better options for their residents.

*I originally published this article in The Star newspaper in 2014.

Are you implementing a community project targeting mothers that you’d like me to write about? Email me on maryanne@mummytales.com and I’ll get back to you.

I Didn’t Think Women Living with Albinism Got Pregnant

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When Catherine, a young woman living with albinism found out she was pregnant, she was so shocked because all along she had thought that women with albinism do not get pregnant. So what happened next? Watch her story below and share your thoughts.

In the video, I also touch on the topic of women’s experiences during labor and childbirth, especially from health care providers. I talk about how birthing mothers should be given respectful maternity care at all times, and there is nothing that should warrant mistreatment of women during childbirth. Watch and share your comments.

Do you have a motherhood story you’d like to share? Or do you have any feedback on the stories here at Mummy Tales? Email me on maryanne@mummytales.com

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

I Almost Bled to Death After Delivering my Baby: Tabitha’s Postpartum Hemorrhage Story

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Just minutes after giving birth, Tabitha felt her life start to slowly slip away, right there on the delivery table. It had been a smooth pregnancy and an uncomplicated labor and delivery, but just when she thought it was over, it wasn’t. She was not prepared for the worst that followed. Tabitha narrates her story in this video below, that is meant to create awareness on the things that can go wrong during childbirth.

**This video is intended for educational and awareness purposes only, as narrated by one Kenyan mom who went through the postpartum haemorrhage experience. Please consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional for more information about pregnancy and childbirth.**

Follow Tabitha’s You Tube channel here.

Also watch these related videos:

Do you have an inspiring story you’d like to share? Get in touch with me on maryanne@mummytales.com and I’ll get back to you.

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

How my Husband Died and Life as a Young African Widow

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Just the previous night, Purity had had an unusual long phone call with her husband, but she didn’t think much of it. The following morning, she woke up to the shocking and devastating news that her husband had been brutally murdered! What exactly happened in those few hours? They had been married for only three years. Watch the video below:

In the video, Purity, a young widow talks about what happened on the night her husband died, and how life has been after that, including her relationship with her in-laws. Purity’s story also helps us think more about how our families will treat our spouses in the unfortunate event of death.

Do you have an inspiring story you’d like to share? Get in touch with me on maryanne@mummytales.com and I’ll get back to you.

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

Homestay in Harambee Estate in Nairobi (Kiambakana Homestay)

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Homestay in Buruburu
Do you know of someone who would be looking for a fully furnished short-stay house in the Harambee area in the Eastlands, Nairobi? Harambee is adjacent to Buruburu estate.
I’d like to share information with you about a cozy, nice 3 bed-room house in this area, called Kiambakana Homestay. I have personally been to this house and I absolutely love it, so I am recommending it based on my own personal experience. See the photos below that will help you get a feel about the place. More information about Kiambakana Homestay, including contact details are below.

Homestay in Buruburu
Homestay in BuruburuHomestay in BuruburuHomestay in BuruburuHomestay in NairobiHomestay in NairobiHomestay in NairobiThe Kiambakana Homestay in Nairobi is suitable for relatives and friends who visit Nairobi for medical or other reasons, and are unable to stay with their kin due to various reasons such as space, cultural constrains or other reasons. The house is also suitable for relatives visiting from overseas and looking to be near family in Eastlands.
The cost for the whole house is Sh4,000 per day. The house is a 10-minute walk from Metropolitan Hospital. It is also a walking distance from Buruburu Girls High School. The homestay has a caretaker who is a good cook. In-house cleaning services are also available.
You can reach Kiambakana Homestay via the contact number +254733 425 456.
airbnb buruburu
Bookmark this information as you never know when you’ll need it. Also, share with your friends. If you do get to be a guest at the house, you can let me know your experience 🙂
Thanks for reading.
Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

Why I’m Too Afraid to Have Another Baby

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Hello friends! Today I’d like you to meet Stephanie Rose, who has tokophobia -an extreme fear of pregnancy and childbirth. But Stephanie wasn’t always this way. Something terrible happened after she delivered her first baby. Today, Stephanie says that the mere thought of another pregnancy ‘gives her nightmares’. She says she can never go down that road again. So what happened exactly? Watch Stephanie tell her story below.

Also watch Catherine’s story below:

Many are the times I’ve learnt (and I’m sure you have too) of stories of moms who have died after successfully delivering their babies. Their pregnancies were smooth, their labor okay, and the delivery went on without complications. Only to hear that a few hours later, the new mother died and I always wonder, what happened? What went wrong? I mean, she died in hospital, so what could have possibly gone wrong?

Well, I bring you the story of a survivor, Stephanie Rose, who lived to tell her story. She saw death! Even gave out her PIN numbers to her mother, knowing she would not live another minute. But she survived, and she shares her story with us today. This story helps inform us on the possible things that can go wrong after a childbirth, and the warning signs that the new mom and those around her (medics, family members and friends) need to look out for that can help save her life.

Watch Stephanie Rose’s story, and learn something new. Also, share with a friend. If you have a childbirth story you’d like to share, email me on maryanne@mummytales.com and I’ll get back to you.

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

“The Emotions I’m Going Through After my Miscarriage” – Yunita’s Story

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Hello friends, and welcome to Mummy Tales, where we talk all things motherhood. Now, what emotions does a woman who has had a miscarriage go through? What goes through her mind? Does she blame herself? Does she think it’s something she did? Does she think it was avoidable? Well, today I share the story of one mom, Yunita, who sent me her story (if you have a story you’d like to share, email me: maryanne@mummytales.com ). Yunita, a mother of a 4-year-old daughter recently lost her pregnancy. This is her story.

“I certainly didn’t abort my baby!!!!!! I wanted to scream. ‘Complete spontaneous abortion’. I was annoyed at how the medics referenced how I’d lost my baby. ‘Complete spontaneous abortion’. What a mockery! Can’t they just call it a miscarriage? At least for my sake!

Or, could they say: “Heartbreaking loss of child”, or “unwelcome, painful death of baby”. Those references would do more justice to the situation. After that, they can then use whatever terms they wish – in my absence.

Watch: Mary Wanyoike’s Trying to Conceive Story

They also say ‘foetus’. Foetus my foot! My precious baby just died and she had a name! Maya she was. Was to be. Well, I wasn’t sure it was a girl, but had hoped it was. My husband had wanted a boy and would have named him Tilo. Thilo. Tealaw. Teelow. Tillor. Whatever. It would have been fun playing around with the spelling and deciding on one. Watching him wiggle his toes and burp and smile toothlessly. Playing peekaboo or hide-and-seek with him and his elder sister. But now, that is not to be.

Also Read: The Stitch in Time that Prevented my Miscarriage – Selina Ojwang’s Story

After I was discharged, I stepped out of the hospital unsure of how to face the world. Without my baby. Was I supposed to call close friends and inform them of my miscarriage? Or how does it work? I didn’t want a situation where people would have started to take pity on me, casting merciful glances. Such would have driven me to tears. I just wanted to grieve in the privacy of my home, behind closed doors.

Was it my Fault?

I kept asking myself what I’d done wrong. Had I overworked? Lifted heavy weights? Was I so stressed out that my body couldn’t sustain the pregnancy? Had I eaten something I shouldn’t have? Did I ignore some red flags? Had I taken my pregnancy for granted, just because my first one had been without complications? Could I have been so careless? Is there anything I could have done to prevent it?

I had no answer to these questions and neither did the doctors. In fact, they weren’t even keen on finding out what could have caused the miscarriage. They even said it could have been the chromosomes, in which case the baby wouldn’t have survived anyway. This thought comforted me a little – that maybe I wasn’t responsible for the death of my child.

But still, I was disturbed. What if it happened because of something I did or failed to do? I needed to know so that it didn’t happen again and so that I could accept responsibility and deal with the consequent guilt. That would give me closure.

Journey of Healing

So I embarked on a journey of healing, with one consolation: That my baby is in a better place where they’ll never know any pain. Though I’d prefer to have my baby here, I’m grateful that they’ve been spared the many trials of human life. I’d also like to think that if my baby could see me, they’d want me to trudge on joyfully. So I choose joy!”-END

So that is Yunita’s experience. Suffering a miscarriage is an extremely painful experience, just as Yunita has shared. Not many women are able to speak openly about it –not even with their spouses. Many suffer in silence. But be encouraged to know that there is help available for you, and that you are not alone.

Have you experienced a miscarriage? Would you like to share your story? Email me on maryanne@mummytales.com

Also Read: I Lost my Baby at 37 Weeks Pregnant. This is What Happened – June Muli’s Story

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

Featured image credit: iwaria.com

“I’m still Healing from that Experience” (Primary Boarding School)

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Hello friends and welcome back to Mummy Tales. So last year I did this post: ‘The Headteacher Stepped on Her Neck as She Lay Down, While Beating Her’ and got quite some feedback after I published it. It was the story about a mom whose boarding experience in primary school made her resolve to never do the same to her children. Please take time to read it in case you didn’t, and also let me know what you think, especially if you attended a boarding primary school.

So today, I share one of the responses I received from that article. It is by Susan Karingi, who tells of her primary boarding school experience. If you have a story that you’d like to share with other moms, you can email me on maryanne@mummytales.com

This is Susan’s story:

“When I was told I would join boarding school in class four at the age of 10 years, I was ecstatic. Finally, I was joining the ‘big girls club’. You see, back in the day, transferring to a boarding school was a big deal, and the thought alone was so exciting!

I did my interviews at two different schools, both in Kirinyaga, and I passed both. Between the two, my parents chose the stricter Catholic school.

We were required to label all our items with our three names. This included panties and handkerchiefs. I remember how my mum and the house help stayed up late in the night tirelessly stitching my names on all items. While it may have been stressful for them, to me it was so exciting as it marked the beginning of a new phase of my life. Back then I did not know what awaited me.

The Dreaded Cane

When I got into the school I quickly learned that there were three things of high importance in the school:

  1. Discipline and cleanliness were top priorities for the Sisters
  2. Good grades were to be maintained
  3. The school was picturesque and the lawns beautiful. It was kept that way by the girls

The above expectations were instilled in us through use of the cane and verbal abuse. It was horrible. For example, the Sisters would come get you out of class if the area you cleaned was not up to par according to their standards. The prefect in charge of that specific area would also be beaten and expected to clean the area for slacking on her supervisory duties.

Favouritism was rife and the girls who were the apples of the Sisters’ eyes got off easier than the rest of us. You would see the subtle glee in their eyes as they watched other girls get punished. So we tried our best to be in the good books.

Baboon Bottoms  

When it came to our performance, we tried not to drop our grades. Let me talk about the infamous mlolongo day. On this day, we would line up in our respective classes from position 1 to the last based on our performance in exams. If you improved, you were spared. It was a very brutal way of getting us girls to perform. Those who had dropped from the previous performance got it rough. Their bottoms or ‘nyama ya serikali’ as we would say, would be whipped until they became red and swollen like those of a baboon.

Talking of baboons. The school was filled with these cheeky vervet monkeys that loved eating mangoes from a huge mango tree in the school compound. Sometimes, they would even waste some of them. Yet, if you dared eat a single mango from that tree, the wrath of the administration would be upon you.

Nylon Tea and ‘Top Layer’

The school administration did not really encourage any form of extra-curricular activities. So we grew up not knowing much else other than books (mostly academic), books and more books. Simple games like skipping rope, ‘katior bladder were all banned. It was a rather bland existence.

But, we lived for Sundays. That was the day we would drink ‘nylon tea’ which was basically a mixture of milk and water. The milk though was often cold and over sweetened. But the fat slice of bread with a centimetre-thick layer of spread was heaven.

Breakfast everyday was porridge. It was an interesting porridge. The flour would settle to the bottom of our oily plates, while the water would rise as the ‘top layer’. I never quite understood how that chemistry worked out.

Toothpaste for a Snack?

We were always hungry as the portions served were too small. Ever looked at toothpaste and seen it as a snack? Well, we would rub it on the back of our hands till it was white and then lick it off slowly. We also had this quirky behaviour of carrying our spoons everywhere. They were the only pieces of cutlery that mattered. So you would meet with misplaced spoons all over the school compound. Even down the river as we called it.

Stolen Water from the River

Come to think of it, it was a canal, a man-made diversion for the school and community around it. We had this huge stone water tank that would overflow with water. We would line our buckets to collect the overflow. On the one hand we had an overflowing tank and on the other the taps where we would have fetched water were mostly dry. We never had any running water unless you sucked on the tap so hard. But still, that would only fill a cup.

So everyday in the evening after reciting the rosary, we would rush down the road to the river and fetch water, clean our clothes, fetch bathing water as well as water for cleaning the area allocated to us. This we had to do with cold, hard, metal buckets.

Water was precious, and the lazy girls would steal it at night as you slept. Now imagine waking up in the morning to an empty bucket! The river trips were only done in the evening, and remember all the other taps were dry. Yet it was a must for you to have that bath or else the dorm Prefect would report you to Sister Matron. Imagine the stress!

Any leaking gutter was heaven sent, you would at least get clean water unlike the brown one that the river did. Come to think of it, I learnt how to filter out that river water like a pro and how to make water stretch and last for long. I could do a heavy cleaning with just three buckets of water.

Scrubbing the Pigs

I left the school knowing how to blend in and lie low so as not to be noticed by the sisters or teachers. I was a top performer but still, that did not do anything for myself esteem. Punishments were brutal, you would be told to go scrub the pigs or the pigs sty or kneel out in the cold the whole evening preps. This, after being beaten and shamed in front of the whole school during school assembly.

I still wonder how the Sisters slept at night after doing all that to kids.

They instilled the fear of any authority figure, in me. I have struggled with this and it has not been easy. It has really kept me from running for positions of leadership. I actually have had leadership thrust upon me by circumstances. I am still on my road to finding my true North.

How Boarding School Affected my Parenting Style

My primary school boarding experience has had a huge impact on my parenting style. I delayed taking my first born to boarding until class seven and even then, it was only because it was a requirement by the school.

I have also empowered my children to let me know when and if the teacher(s) have crossed the line in matters punishment. I encourage them to talk to me as much as they can, that way I know what is going on in their lives. I also encourage them to be independent, so you will find my youngest who is two and a half dressing herself or doing some light chores.

Cleanliness is also a thing at my house. We take out our beddings every Saturday like we did in school. I am very careful with words I use, because those do more damage than beating ever will.

My last words are – use your words to build your child, be present for your child and discipline them with word, action and rewards. You will have a well-rounded child. Be intentional in your parenting, the world needs more love than hate. A hurt child will grow up into a broken adult. I’m still healing from that experience.”–END.

And that is Susan’s experience. What are your thoughts about it? Also, if you went to a primary boarding school in Kenya, what was your experience? You can share it with me at maryanne@mummytales.com

Thanks for reading!

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

Why I’ve Worked for 12 Years as a Househelp in this Home

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Can you imagine being gifted Sh100,000 by your employer? Gifted, not loaned! Wow! Well, that’s exactly what happened to Ruth, a house girl in Nairobi.

On her first day at work, when Ruth stepped into her employer’s house, she told her rather very categorically, that she’ll only work for three months then leave. Well, it’s been a whole 12 years!!! So what changed? That’s exactly what Ruth talks about in this video (it’s a long one, so set aside some good time). I also got to talk to her employer, so you’ll meet her too.

By the way, as I interviewed these two beautiful moms, I admired and loved their warm interaction. So watch, be inspired, leave a comment, and to my fellow moms – share it with another mom as there’s a thing or two we can all learn from these two beautiful ladies. Also, if you have a story you’d like to share on Mummy Tales, you can write to me on maryanne@mummytales.com

Thanks for watching!

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

What Kenyan Moms Take to Increase their Breast Milk Supply

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Hi friends! So, for many nursing moms, one of their biggest worries is whether they have enough breastmilk for their babies, and how they can boost this supply. Well, from my own experiences and from the experiences of other Kenyan moms I have interacted with and whose stories I read in the many mom online groups I’m in, I share with you some of the most common foods and drinks they take to boost their breastmilk supply.

Please note that this information is not a substitute for medical advice -for more information please contact your doctor, healthcare professional or lactation consultant. So here we go…

  • Mawele porridge. This worked perfectly for me. I’d buy it from Uchumi supermarket
  • Njahi. This works well for many moms, and it also worked well for me. In fact, my traditional Kikuyu mom would mash the cooked njahi together with ripe bananas for more effect. And it worked 😊
  • Lots and lots of water. You must hydrate regularly
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Cocoa (the original one)
  • Drinking Chocolate
  • Lactation Cookies
  • Brown chapati
  • Fenugreek
  • Bone soup
  • Dill Seeds
  • Moringa
  • Oatmeal

Also Read: 16 Kenyan Moms Share their most Important Breastfeeding Lessons

Did I miss out on something that worked for you? Comment down below and let us know. Also, take note that what works for one mom might not work for the next. My cousin took dill seeds and her milk flowed like a Friesian. So she happily shared some of her dill seeds with me, but unfortunately they absolutely didn’t work for me. At all. Then, another cousin of mine introduced me to mawele porridge and my oh my! that mawele worked instantly for me, so perfectly! However, I’d like to emphasize that the more you breastfeed, the more your milk comes. And remember to drink lots and lots of water, by the gallons. Also, if you are not settled well mentally, it can affect your breastmilk supply, no matter what you take, so try and be mentally at ease during your nursing period as much as you can. Stress leads to a decrease in breastmilk supply. Comment down below on what worked for you:)

 

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

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