Home Featured Mums Breastfeeding in Kenya: The Day I Breastfed my Friend’s Baby, and Why

Breastfeeding in Kenya: The Day I Breastfed my Friend’s Baby, and Why

photo: file

Moms, have you ever breastfed another woman’s baby? Or if you haven’t, is it something you would do? Well, today I share the story of one mom who once did that.

Here is her narration of that:

“My friend and I were pregnant at the same time, and we had delivered our babies in the same month, so they were basically agemates.

She had a business running a kiosk and one day, she ran out of supplies and needed to make a quick dash to the wholesale store for a restock. Before she left, she breastfed her baby and left her sleeping. She then requested me to keep watch over her. She assured me she wouldn’t take long, that by the time she got back, her baby would still be asleep.

Unfortunately, her baby woke up a short while later. She then began fussing and crying. Hard as I tried comforting her, she wouldn’t stop crying. I rocked her, saddled her, soothed her, sang for her… but she continued crying.

Hungry Baby?

In between, I was also calming down my baby who had by then woken up. I would breastfeed my baby, then return to soothing my friend’s baby -to no avail.

After a while, I got so frustrated as I looked at the baby in distress. So I made a quick decision.

I thought maybe the baby had not breastfed enough and was hungry thus the incessant cries. It had been over two hours since her mom had left. So I decided to offer her my breastmilk.

As I breastfed her, she calmed down and after a few minutes, she slept – like a baby. When her mom returned, she found her still sleeping peacefully.

Panicky, Scared Mother

I felt the need to tell my friend what had happened. When I told her, to say that she was shell-shocked would be an understatement! She went into panic mode and began shaking while pacing up and down.

She then turned to me and asked:

“Are you okay? What is your HIV status?”

I told her that I was HIV negative, but she insisted on us going to the VCT center immediately to verify this. She actually closed down her shop and we went to get the HIV test done there and then.

I was Naive

Honestly for me, I just did the first thing that came to my mind. It was an innocent gesture. The baby was crying and my first instinct was to feed her so that she could calm down. We hadn’t weaned our babies yet, so breastmilk was the only food I could think of giving her.

I was 21 years old then, young and not as informed as I am now about the risks of breastfeeding another woman’s baby. Thankfully, we remained friends and our babies are now 13 years old.

file photo: Africa Knows

Would I breastfeed another mom’s baby if need be? Yes I would, without any hesitation. I would do anything to help a baby in need. However, I would ensure that I have permission from the mother to do so.” -END

Editor’s note: The practice of breastfeeding another woman’s baby is called wet nursing. While the practice has been around for years, doing so requires precautions due to the health risks involved. Dr. Stephen Mutiso says that various infections can be transmitted through breastmilk, and they include HIV and Hepatitis B, among others. So this is important information to take note of.

So, have you ever breastfed another woman’s child? Is it something you would do? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of maternal and newborn health, as well as various issues surrounding motherhood and women. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: YOUTUBEFACEBOOK l INSTAGRAM l TWITTER 



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Maryanne W. Waweru is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.


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