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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
*Photos courtesy: Wanjiku Wanderi.