Successful exclusive breastfeeding
06 Jan 2016
by Cynthia Kanyere,
Communication and Advocacy Officer,
UNICEF Zone East Democratic Republic of the Congo – Goma
I breastfed my baby exclusively for the first six months and I’m very happy about it. I wasn’t always supported in this process. I had to rely on myself to succeed.
Fighting for healthier babies
Successful completion of exclusive breastfeeding has made me truly happy. I was giving discouraging remarks as such: “you will not be able to hold on till six months, it’s too long” or “the child often cries at night because you do not feed him enough” or “You should give him a little water and even powdered milk to supplement his diet. I must admit that during his first three months, the child had severe colic, he cried a lot at night and fed a lot without gaining much weight. Even my husband, who wanted to see his first child grow up fast, suggested to add a breast milk substitute to make sure the child was full. I wanted to breastfeed my child, and I refused to give in to these temptations.
UNICEF “Unite for Children”
The 24-week maternity leave offered by UNICEF encouraged me to exclusively breastfeed my child for the first six months. Baby Jos was born the 25th of March 2015 and until September 25, 2015 only took breast milk. Today he is very healthy.
“Given the size and weight of your baby’s birth at four months if he is not satisfied by breast milk, you can add a breast milk substitute,” said the pediatrician. I was shocked by these words, since pediatricians being health professionals should promote exclusive breastfeeding up to six months. Baby Jos’s weight at birth was 4.100 kg and he was about 50 cm in size. At six and a half months, he weighs 10kg. Everyone who sees him congratulates me and I am really proud.
Do not ask others to do what you cannot do
In my role as a communications officer, I encourage UNICEF partners, especially the media, to enhance the dissemination of messages on the five essential family practices that include exclusive breastfeeding up to six months. I myself promote this essential practice for proper development of the baby. I want the best for my baby and I did my best to offer it.
Lessons from my experience breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is a magical moment between the child and his mother. I encourage mothers to practice. Long before his birth, I wanted to breastfeed my child and I had enough milk to feed him. “If you want, you can” they say.
The father’s support is very important. My baby’s father adhesion to exclusive breastfeeding for six months was not automatic. He wanted to see his child grow up fast, no matter if he should take breast or the milk powder.
Mothers should be informed on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and should not be convinced otherwise. Given the pressure that relatives can make regarding the baby’s diet, there are temptations to give in to old practices. It can be difficult for a young bride who becomes mother to prevail for the best interest of her baby. UNICEF’s message on exclusive breastfeeding have not reached everyone, including medical personnel; we have to continue broadcasting them.