Breastmilk make us who we are

Neema Ntibagwe’s daughter, Mercy Lukio who had gone through an exclusive breastfeeding.

Dar es Salaam. Life begins after the first 1,000 days of any newborn from conception to the age of two. There’s no trophy in doing so for parents, but its impacts are priceless.

Again, just because you are not that parent or was raised recklessly in your childhood, it doesn’t mean you should do the same to your children.

Shangwe Mlangali, is one of the few amazing women who provided the best start to their children’s lives through exclusive breastfeeding and paying attention to their diets.

Through phone interview, she held with this paper, she reveals how the nutrition education made her changes her lifestyle for good.

With a voice of a woman on her thirties lookalike, Ms Shangwe defines what a contemporary mother should be as she was a pastor’s wife, student at UDSM and mother.

Her baby came earlier than her Master’s Degree she furthered at UDSM.  Delivering a 3.5 pounds weighing baby is no small feat for the today’s expectant mothers – thanks to her commitment to nutritious diet for her baby.

During post-natal, she says that she had to balance time between complex—looking engineering classes and breastfeeding her newborn.

“I had to get up early in the morning, and express milk into the bottle for later getting warmed up by my maid before giving it to the baby,” she adds.

Despite facing up to hard life, her determination was her strongest weapon to beat anything that was seemed impossible for her.

She would sometimes step out of ongoing classes for breastfeeding her baby under the tree.

Her son breastfed exclusively for all six months without consuming any extra food. “I was hailed by many people for raising my baby that way perfectly, he is very stronger and healthy.”

Her child (John) is now 16 years old. She says that John has had a marvelous academic records since primary. At Secondary level, he has won certificates of excellence in science subjects twice with two different schools.

Ms Shangwe – unlike most girls – was scared of having a stunted child on her watch than developing saggy breasts. She is a phenomenal woman.

As Ms Shangwe hits the finished line, Jackline Nanyaro, another champion, just got her race set off.

Jackline’s story is staged on how she fought the ordeal of breastfeeding her toddler while conceiving her second child.

For a woman who is short of ante-natal clinic education, she would easily find a way to stop breastfeeding her first child on the pretext of carrying new womb – but not for Jackline.

She continued breastfeeding her toddler while with a new pregnancy and stopped when his child was at the age of eight months as directed by her medical attendant.

According to her, she had to lay off the work to take a good care of her situation. Her second child breastfed for two years – surpassing six-month breastfeeding threshold and that’s was overzealous Jackline.

“It wasn’t a big deal encountering with such burden, I had already set up my mind,” says the self-assertive Jackline.

Her first child is four and the second is three, despite the fact that the latter looks older than his real age.

Jackline raised well her two children but did she tap any space created by our own country laws to improve breastfeeding her children at work? Meet Neema Ntibagwe

Ms Neema as a working mother of four children (all girls) with a professional background in nutrition field presents us with an encounter of how to leverage available country’s provisions to breastfeed your children appropriately.

As she was based in Dodoma, when she delivered her second child, she got moved out of Dodoma to work in Bahi. Her move refreshed her thoughts and made a vow to exhaust the loophole in the laws for working mothers to make a lasting difference she wishes to see in her girls.

She insists that according to the Employment and Labour Relations Act of Tanzania, she was spared 12 weeks of paid maternity leave and used that period to constantly breastfeed her newborn twice than she did during working days.

And even six months after delivery, Ms Neema would pick two hours at work to breastfeed her child as stated by the law.

“I never rate my work as a challenge to breastfeed my own child but an opportunity to double what I was doing during normal days or weekend,” insists Ms Neema.

Unlike in other families, her husband was supportive by making sure that healthy foods were available at home during her pregnancy and even after delivery as well as encouraging her to take the iron folic acid supplements from the health facility.

She thanks the Government for the reinforcement of the law as it help working mothers to take really good care of their newborns as medics require and for the benefit of children growth.

Shangwe, Jackline and Neema are unsung breastfeeding champions whose stories would change the mindset of future mothers to tread on the same prints for the betterment of our generation.