Report Indicates Young Single Mothers ‘Refusing’ To Breastfeed To Keep Shape

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A number of young single mothers are silently avoiding breastfeeding their newborn children – to protect their breasts from ‘falling flat’ too soon.

 

 

A doctor at a government hospital in Nairobi was recently heard castigating a young single mother for not breastfeeding her baby.

 

 

 

The poor child – according to the doctor – looked underfed and malnourished – unlike its mother.

 

 

 

Such little ‘fights’ happen all the time – with doctors and nurses often shouting themselves hoarse trying to force young healthy mothers to breastfeed.

 

 

Many young single mothers don’t want to breastfeed.

Take the case of Juliet Wafula* who works as a waitress at a hotel along Mombasa Road. Her seven months old baby girl has not been breastfeeding – something she blames on her nature of work – and of course the fact that she wants to keep her beautiful shape.

 

 

 

“I have to maintain good shape if I have to one day attract a suitor who would want to settle down with me,” says Ms. Wafula.

 

 

 

“I hear stories that breastfeeding will make my boobs lose shape, and I am still in the market,” she says with a smile.

 

 

 

She adds: “I am forced by circumstances facing me as a single mother to do what I do.”

 

 

“I have to put food on the table and that means staying away from the house and my child for long hours,” Ms. Wafula told Wananchi Reporting.

 

 

In Umoja estate, Ms.  Stellah (not her really name) has two children; a boy aged five years, and a girl aged two years.

 

 

 

“My two children never had a chance to enjoy my breast milk because of the nature of my work,” she says.

 

 

Ms. Stella works as a stripper at a popular Nairobi club – a ‘career’ that can be physically demanding – she says.

 

 

The nature of her work demands she maintains a good body shape to keep the job.

“I really don’t have a choice with this kind of job. It is either I lose shape and get kicked out, or I shape up and keep the job.”

 

 

Adding that: “If had an alternative job, I wouldn’t care one bit even if my breasts sagged.”

Ms. Stellah, like many other young women, often feed their brood on baby formula and powdered milk to keep them healthy.

 

 

But many young single mothers cannot afford such ‘luxuries’ as baby formula and powdered milk — and so resort to feeding their children on ugali and mala.

 

 

Solomon Wambui, a medical doctor and Children Officer in Nairobi said he has had cases of mothers refusing to breastfeed their children for reasons not associated with health or medical factors.

 

 

 

He confirmed that indeed, more women are ‘refusing’ to breastfeed – something that need to be discouraged.

 “Mothers need to consider the welfare of their children first rather than focusing on their own interests,” says Wambui who is also a doctor.

 

 

 

He says that Breastfeeding is the first preventive health measure which can be given to a child.

 

 

A part from being a preventive health measure, it also enhances mother-child relationship.

 

 

Additionally, it is nature’s first immunization, making it possible for the baby to fight potential serious health conditions while also containing growth factors that enhance the maturation of an infant’s organ systems.

 

 

 

His sentiments are shared by Dr. Stephene Sagasia, a gynaecologist at Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital, Nairobi, who says that depriving a child breastmilk is committing an injustice to a child.

 

 

 

According to the doctor, there are many benefits associated with breast milk that keeping it away from a child is a great disservice to them.

 

 

He says that breastmilk supplies the child with the necessary nutrients in appropriate proportions, thus protecting the child obesity, allergies cancer and diabetes.

 

 

 

It is also important in improving a child’s IQ, as well as warding off infections such as ear/eye infections, stomach upsets, constipation and diarrhoea.

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