Mamas helping mamas: Breastfeeding support in Nairobi

When Claire was born, I had a tremendously difficult time with breastfeeding. It was a long, hard slog, but in the end I got through it, and wound up breastfeeding her for a full 18 months.

Within minutes of being born - such an amazing moment!

Within minutes of being born – such an amazing moment!

A full 18 months!  This is something I never would have believed, if future-me went back in time to talk to new-mum-me who struggled for the first six weeks with bleeding, immense pain, and cracked nipples.

Finding support was difficult for me – I was living in Liverpool, UK, where I didn’t know any other mums. My own mother and grandmother didn’t breastfeed when they had babies, so they couldn’t share their own experience or words of wisdom. Furthermore, I was led to believe by all the breastfeeding gurus out there that breastfeeding is natural, and should be painless… Needless to say, I felt like a failure.

Early days - can you see the pain in my eyes?

Early days – can you see the pain in my eyes?

Luckily, I had my own breastfeeding guru – my good friend Lindsay. Lindsay was an experienced mum, and a nurse to boot. She was living in Nairobi, and offered me some great tips via email – which saved me and allowed me to continue with breastfeeding past those first painful weeks. For that, I will be eternally grateful!

Watermarked Photo BF 2

Getting braver! And getting through the hard part…

Flash forward a couple of years – Lindsay is still in Nairobi, and is now a peer counsellor for Nairobi’s Breastfeeding Support Program. Lindsay works one-on-one with new mums, by phone, or making home visits.  She and the other peer counsellors help women sort out any issues they have with breastfeeding – be it latch issues, bleeding, pain, milk supply concerns, engorgement, or any other problems they may be facing. In the event they cannot help resolve a breastfeeding concern, they can also refer mums to a healthcare provider or lactation consultant.

Speaking from experience, just talking with another mum and knowing that you’re not the only one to struggle with breastfeeding is an enormous help. Lindsay and her fellow peer counsellors in the Breastfeeding Support Program are an invaluable resource to breastfeeding mums in Nairobi. Breastfeeding difficulties can often be sorted out quickly when mums are given the support and encouragement they need. If you’re a new mum (or soon to be a new mum), please keep this resource in mind.

You can reach the Breastfeeding Support Program by email (be sure to include your first name and the area of town in which you live), or by calling 0737 949 875 (Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm). You will be given contact information for one of the Breastfeeding Support Program’s peer counsellors closest to your area. Telephone and email support is available for free!

Without Lindsay’s help, I am not sure I would have made it through those first difficult weeks. I am so happy that she and other trained peer counsellors are available to support other mums out there! Please check out these testimonials for Lindsay’s services. If you would like to contact Lindsay directly,you can reach her through her website, The Breast Advice.

Testimonials:

Lindsay recently counseled me when I was having some challenges breastfeeding my son. She has a wealth of knowledge and plenty of practical tips up her sleeve to help a mother through what I think is one of the toughest skills to learn as a new mum. Her friendly approach made me feel very comfortable and at ease, almost as if I had known her for years, and this helped to reduce the stress I was feeling. I was very grateful for Lindsay’s support and willingness to take time to make sure I was feeling confident that I could do what she had taught on my own. I would recommend her services to anyone (and I already have)!  – Joanna, new mum

Lindsay’s help was invaluable to me. I called her 2 weeks after I came home from the hospital with my first child. Breastfeeding can be so confusing and there is much more to know that one would think. Lindsay was so generous with her time, information and support and 8 months later my baby is still happily breastfeeding. Her services should be as mandatory as putting baby in a car seat as breastfeeding is something that is optimal for health and safety of a child if the mother and baby are able to do it.  – Amy, new mum

It gives me gives me great pleasure to provide a testimonial for Lindsay. I have known her for several years. She has attended our clinic with her children and also provided excellent professional support as a breast feeding counsellor to mothers in our clinic. I have received only positive feedback from mums who appreciated the initial free phone support call. Many of of the mothers then went on to plan a consult with Lindsay. The mothers really appreciated that she could see them in their home setting. Her attention to detail, experience as a nurse and professionalism make her an ideal breast feeding counsellor. The detailed phone feedback she provides me after a session with my patients adds to the quality of care we provide to breastfeeding mums. She recently participated in a breast feeding training course as an instructor and trained our clinic nurse Rose. Our patients have also appreciated the extra skills Rose acquired and is now sharing.  – Dr. Sidney Nesbitt, pediatrician

As a pediatrician, I cannot stress how much I value Lindsay’s support for new mothers requiring breastfeeding assistance.  Her approach is kind, supportive and scientifically sound and has enabled many mothers who may otherwise have given up breastfeeding to continue to do so.  The benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and baby are well-known but initial difficulties with breastfeeding are common.  I would strongly encourage new mums to contact Lindsay for her excellent advice and support.  – Dr Rashnik Ghalay, pediatrician

I have worked with Lindsay for over a year now and I must say it has been fulfilling. Being a pediatrician, I come across many mothers who have difficulty in breastfeeding and I have used Lindsay’s services to help them. What impressed me is that she would sometimes go to their residences and assist them in the comfort of their houses. Most of the mothers achieve successful lactation as we advocate for exclusive breastfeeding for first 6 months.  – Dr Bashir Admani, pediatrician

 

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