Kenya Is Latching On

Many mothers understand the slogan that “Breast Is Best” because the benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding to both baby and mother are well documented. For instance, breast milk provides babies with essential nutrients and antibodies that cannot be found in any other substitute, including infant formula milk. The act of breastfeeding not only promotes bonding but also triggers the release of hormones within a mother that can lower the risk of her getting certain cancers and diseases.

Fortunately, the benefits of breastfeeding extend beyond baby and mother, to society at large. This is the message that is being spread during this year’s World Breastfeeding Week celebrations that will be held from 1st – 7th August 2016.

wbw2016-logo-wordThe purpose of the celebrations is to anchor breastfeeding as a key to sustainable development by 2030, so that by understanding how breastfeeding links to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by the United Nations, we can also truly understand why “Breast is Best”.

Of the 17 SDGs proposed by the United Nations, Kenya chose to focus on the 5 goals that matter most to the country, namely:

  1. Health
  2. Agriculture and Food security
  3. Employment and Enterprise
  4. Universal Education and Gender
  5. Environment

These 5 goals are echoed in the main themes of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week:

  1. Nutrition, Food Security and Poverty Reduction
  2. Survival, Health and Wellbeing
  3. Environment and Climate Change
  4. Women’s Productivity and Employment


Breastfeeding impacts on the goals and themes listed above through the benefits it provides to babies and mothers. For instance, for low-income families, a mother who is able to exclusively breastfeed her baby for the first 6 months of life saves money because breast milk is ‘free’ and she does not need to look for or buy additional food for the baby. Also, the high nutritional value of breast milk and the antibodies it provides increases the chances of a baby’s survival because it reduces the chances of a baby developing diseases such as diarrhea, thus also reducing the money spent on health care and time a mother has to take off work to look after her baby.

wbw-what-lawmakers-can-doIn Kenya, the impact of breastfeeding on women’s productivity and employment was highlighted when Parliament approved a bill forcing employers to provide special breastfeeding areas for working mothers . By doing so, productivity will increase because a working mother will be able to focus on meeting her goals at work and at the same time, provide the nutrition her baby needs to remain healthy.

In relation to the environment and climate change, breast milk does not require the construction of factories and it does not contribute to littering because its packaging is ‘natural’, not in plastic or metal tins. The use of substitutes usually also requires a sustainable source of clean water and additional resources, which may not be accessible to a mother with little to no income.

It is for the reasons listed above, and many more, that a group of breastfeeding counsellors and lactation educators are using the slogan #KenyaIsLatchingOn to raise awareness about the far reaching benefits of breastfeeding and its impact on sustainable development. We have promised to protect, promote and support breastfeeding because we understand how breastfeeding can help Kenya meet its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

During World Breastfeeding Week, we will be visiting maternity wards at 2 major hospitals in Nairobi to spread the word amongst mothers and the staff. As qualified breastfeeding advocates, we know we can contribute to the efforts being made to meet the SDGs by providing mothers with the information and support they may need to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first 6 months of life, and in addition to the appropriate foods, until their children are at least 2 years old.



Best Parenting Book

I am part of a parenting support group on Facebook, and one mum recently asked “…if you could recommend 1 good parenting book, what would it be?”

I quickly wanted to type… “Mine!”

Not that I’m an author mind you or an authority on parenting but I am a mother of 2 beautiful boys and thanks to them, I’ve been able to “write” my own parenting books. I have not done it alone of course and I’ve used other published well-renowned authors as references but my babies have been too unique to follow one particular book.

stack of books

My oldest son is 2 and a half and I’m still writing his book. His brother is 11 months and I’m also writing his! Why 2 different books? Well it turned out that whatever I’d written about “The Boss” wasn’t really applicable to “The Deputy”. The latter had his own routine, his own likes and wants, his own quirks and irritations, therefore I needed to write a whole new book for him and use completely different reference points. Out went the “What to Expect” series and in came “The Great Oracle” a.k.a Google. It was un-nerving because my issue was no longer how to get him to sleep through the night by 8 weeks, I now just needed him to sleep for at least 2 hours on his own, out of my hands. Boy! What a book it has been!

I really wish my boys came with manuals… right after delivering the placenta, I wouldn’t have minded a neatly wrapped book that explained what each one needed and what I should do in certain situations but since that’s not the case, I’ve come to realise that’s why the parenting books are so many… because every parent does it differently and if what they do works for their children and their friends’ children then Hey, Presto! you can write it all down and have it published.

Don’t get me wrong, I have the books… 2 of Gina Ford’s, the What To Expects, Dr. Sears and thanks to Kindle and iBook, I can start a library filled with parenting books. Somehow, however, one book hasn’t been sufficient because it is “too strict, too lax, too confusing, or too unrealistic”, always “too something”, until I realised that I can pick and mix! I can pick what I feel works and what baby/toddler responds to and mix it in. And there folks is how I started writing my own well-referenced book!

Will I publish my books? I don’t think so but I can use them to help those around me. Most importantly, they’re a lovely reminder of how far I’ve come with my boys and I know I’ll constantly be adding new chapters to them. If my mum is anything to go by, I pray that I’ll still be writing my parenting book for the next 50 years and beyond!

Happy Parenting and Writing!

Josie Karoki originally published this post in 2012 on her personal blog. It has been edited and used with her permission.