By Virginia Nyambura
It is 2018 and despite efforts to create awareness on the importance of breastfeeding a child exclusively for the first six months of their lives, we continue to outrage about a mother’s right to breastfeed her baby wherever she wants and upon baby’s demand.
A few months ago a story of a mother being denied the right to breastfeed in a restaurant in the city run across media stations sparking anger from women who demonstrated in support of the course. Most women arguing that they should not be pushed to cover babies when nursing them since there is no law in place demanding that food should be covered while feeding.
According to the World Health Organization, a child should be exclusively breastfed for their first six months with an extra emphasis on breastfeeding within the first hour of birth which is said to reduce chances of the infant catching infections or being malnourished. Despite weaning or rather introducing foods and water, WHO further recommends a child to continue on breast milk until they are at least two years of age.
Employment is said to challenge the possibility of six months exclusive breastfeeding as most companies have short maternity leave periods which forces the mother back to work. Growing cost of living too makes it difficult for most mothers to be with their young ones to enable nursing upon demand.
Cases of mothers passing on during delivery have also been on the rise and the young ones left behind are not able to breastfeed at all, the Government has begun an initiative to build breast milk banks to provide such babies have access to breast milk. Mothers who produce excess milk or whose babies have passed and would wish to donate breast milk to these babies will have a chance to do so.
A number of top private Kenyan companies support the initiative by providing facilities such as availing freezers to freeze the breast milk, a clean room with comfortable seats and a warm water dispenser to enable mothers to express milk without contaminating it.
As the World marks the end of the World Breastfeeding Week, there is still a lot that is yet to be done beginning with the negative attitude towards breastfeeding mothers, we should embrace the act and support them to ensure a healthy generation in future.