Wanjiku Wanderi is a Kenyan-born mom raising her family in Denmark. She is a journalist, blogger, photographer and describes herself as having a ‘passion for all things Divinity, Africa and Journalism’.
When she was a new mom, Wanjiku did not have it easy during her first days of motherhood. She faced a challenge that many new mothers face –that of getting breastfeeding right. Though based in Denmark now, she was living in her hometown of Nyeri at that time. She offers us a glimpse of her breastfeeding experience then.
“I always thought breastfeeding was child’s play and I’d pick it up as soon as baby was out. Little did I know it was an art that needed to be perfected by both baby and mama. I had no one to show me how to make baby latch properly from the breastfeeding onset, and this resulted in me having extremely cracked nipples and engorged breasts. Breastfeeding became a nightmare – a blood, sweat and tears ritual. Literally! I would cry every time my baby opened his mouth to suckle.
Related: Signs of a Good Latch When Breastfeeding
My in-laws politely told me that if I chose to formula feed, it wouldn’t make me less of a mother. True, but I desperately needed to give exclusive breastfeeding a shot.
Thankfully, one of my friends came to my rescue and recommended that I see a lactation consultant, which I did. I contacted Susan Muriithi, a breastfeeding counsellor and lactation consultant at Toto Touch and who is passionate about helping mothers and children. Susan is based in Nairobi and after I spoke to her, she graciously drove all the way from Nairobi at 4am to where I was in Nyeri and she arrived by 6am.
Susan taught me the ropes of successful breastfeeding. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t sought professional help. Perhaps the pain trauma would have inevitably led me to exclusively formula feed. All I know is that I am glad that I asked for help.
Following Susan’s advice, my son was able to exclusively breastfeed for five months. We overcame many challenges, including but not limited to: letdowns, expressing and increasing milk flow through the lessons that were taught to me by Susan.
I wish lactation consultants such as Susan would be dispensable to all nursing mother’s before they left the hospital with their newborns. It would save a lot of people the grief of poor breastfeeding techniques.
To all the moms who are breastfeeding, I would encourage you to seek help and advice if you are experiencing any challenges. Don’t be afraid to reach out.”
You can read more of Wanjiku’s motherhood experiences and her reflections on various aspects of life on her blog here.
Susan Muriithi can be reached on email@example.com
*Photos courtesy: Wanjiku Wanderi.
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It doesn’t come easy for most first mothers . It’s a new experience not gone through before so it’s bound to have challenges. But it gets better with subsequent babies. There is so much pressure to initiate breast feeding immediately after birth regardless of what the mother is going through , the emotions etc. Am totally for exclusive breast feeding for the first 6 months but at times not all mothers manage and I am like if you didn’t it doesn’t make you less of a mother. I breastfed my firstborn 12 hours after delivery. A nurse brought him for breast feeding in the middle of the night and was still smarting from a whole day labour and a c- section and I told her I can’t do it they give him formulae. For the second one I did it 18 hrs after delivery. This time round I reacted to the anesthesia; I vomited for the better part of the day. The firstborn refused to breastfeed at one year and half unfortunately the second born refused to breastfeed at 7 months. Truth be told I didn’t beat myself coz of it.
i totally concur with you.A lot comes into play for a mother to successfully breast feed. It requires a wholistic approach.Surprisingly my milk starts flowing immediately.Like my first delivery it started leaking during labour..
Breastfeeding didn’t come easy to me either… I was sooo frustrated, I struggled with latching the baby properly. My baby who at birth was 3.9 kgs lost alot of weight. I was sooo disappointed coz the midwives would urge me to continue putting the baby on the breast even though there was nothing. After being discharged the midwife would come visit and weigh the baby…The blow came when she told me I now have to top up with formula.. I felt soo guilty, my baby was soo hungry…I really wanted to exclusively breastfeed my baby. It was soo frustrating. Anyway didn’t loose hope after a week or so with loads of support I had a lot of milk… I was a happy mummy. I put the formula away and breast fed. Now expecting my Sb I don’t think I will subject my LO to that again.
I am grateful that I had lactation specialists available 24 hours at the hospital Lema was born. As soon as Lema was born, I was given the chance to breastfeed him. It took us an hour of uninterupted mama & son bonding time then the Nurse took over to do her assessments in the same room. I witnessed everything and spent more time rooming with baby than him being away. The hospital advocates a lot for breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact as soon as the baby is born. They showed me the ropes and constantly made rounds to ensure baby had latched well and was feeding. If you don’t see the white milk, it does not mean you don’t have milk. You have colostrum, which is enough for your baby to feed on so you should not worry that you don’t have milk. The lactation specialists showed me how to tell that I actually had colostrum. It was amazing and I continued feeding my baby diligently. It started flowing on day 3 and has been going since then, thanks to the help I received from the first hour after birth.
I went to a breastfeeding workshop when I was in my last trimester during my first pregnancy and what I learnt there helped me a lot after the baby arrived. I also learnt that stress is a contributing factor to the difficulties that new mothers experience whilst trying to establish breastfeeding. But I learnt this second factor through personal experience with my first baby. I was trying to do everything on my own including chores, errands, work etc. I still managed to breastfeed because I had been taught how to encourage a good latch from the breastfeeding workshop and some wonderful midwives at the hospital but it was not easy because I was tired and stressed out. With my second baby, I ensured I was focused only on the baby during the first month, got someone to do all the chores and another to look after my other child and someone to cook all my meals so that I could focus on helping the baby thrive. This really helped me not to think about anyone or anything else but the baby and breastfeeding was easier.
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