Breastfeeding support group opens in Kilimani

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A weekly meet up session of lactation educators in Kilimani is helping Kenyan mothers learn about breastfeeding while beating post partum depression which according to a 2013 report affects 10.6 per cent of women delivering at Kenyatta National Hospital.

Safecare Services, a team of lactation educators, counsellors and child birth educators, offers a safe social haven for mothers to talk about their breastfeeding problems.

“We have come together in a pursuit to support more mothers breastfeeding and we realised that there are some mums on maternity leave looking for a forum where they can speak about breastfeeding and related issues which also helps them to beat baby blues and post-partum depression,” said Joyce Wachira, a lactation educator, counsellor and administrative director at Safecare Services.

Every Wednesday morning for the last four months, the Breastfeeding Cafe has been meeting at Ndemi Place in Kilimani to address the women’s lactation queries.

“Not many Kenyan women know that you can seek help if you are having trouble breastfeeding. In fact, most of us tend to shy away from speaking to the doctor about it because we think that it is not an medical issue,” said Joyce.

The meet ups have proved so effective in beating baby blues such that mothers are willing to travel across Nairobi just to attend.

“There is a time we disappointed a mother who was coming all the way from Mombasa Road to attend because the talking really helped her when she was suffering from post-partum depression because she realised she was not the only one,” said Joyce.

Post-partum depression has been defined as “a clinical and research construct used to describe an episode of major or minor depression arising after childbirth.” This is according to a 2009 report by World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) titled ‘Mental health aspects of women’s reproductive health A global review of the literature’.

The prevalence of this type of depression varies from one developed world to the next.

“10-15% of women in industrialized countries will experience non-psychotic clinical depression in the year after giving birth, with most developing it in the first five weeks postpartum,” read the report.

In developing countries, this rate is higher at between 20 per cent and 40 per cent.

Closer home to Kenya, a 2013 study titled ‘Prevalence of postpartum depression among women delivering at Kenyatta National Hospital’ by Dr Virginia Mwikali Musau puts this rate at 10.6 per cent at six weeks of post-partum.

The Breastfeeding Cafe started out as one-on-one appointments at Safecare’s offices on James Gichuru Road but later changed to what it is now.

“At 10 o’clock a mother would walk in with a breastfeeding concern which we would discuss personally but then we thought of doing groups so as to include other mothers and make it more social,” said Joyce.

However, it is not only breastfeeding that is discussed.

“The conversation almost always gears off to other areas that are not breastfeeding related which is ok because we know a lot of mothers during their maternity leave tend to get bored or depressed so this offers a nice social setting for them,” said Joyce.

Apart from discussing issues to do with lactation, the Breastfeeding Cafe serves as a great outing especially for mothers with older children because it is held in the garden.

On the contrary, the cafe has not been as vibrant as it was four months ago. This is because of the cold weather.

“The mothers have not been coming as often because of the weather. This is especially true for the mothers with older children,” said Joyce.

It is for this reason that Safecare services is looking for an indoor space that will also cater to the older kids in terms of play area.

Due to the low turn out because of the cold weather, Joyce advises mothers who would like to attend the Breastfeeding Cafe to inform her beforehand.

The Breastfeeding Cafe meet ups take place every Wednesday at Ndemi Place in Kilimani on Ndemi Close off Ngong Road approximately 15 minutes from the city centre.

For more information, call 0708 297 542

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