By Ann Wambui
A mother is the most powerful human being to have ever set foot on planet earth. Why? Because she channels to life another human being and nurtures that child from childhood to adulthood. However, it is usually not a smooth road for all due to the challenges that comes with life.
Mothers are advised to exclusively breastfeed their new-born for six months straight because of the nutrients contained in the colostrum. Colostrum is a milky fluid that’s released after birth before breast milk production begins that promotes growth and fights diseases.
Over the years, i have seen countless women breastfeed in public and it was not until my mother told me that there is no moment of embarrassment for a mother once she gives birth. I have seen this in church, in a matatu, just different public spaces and it does not bother me at all. The debate has been whether mothers should cover up when nursing their children but at the same time I feel like this should not be a reason as to why a mother should not feed a child. Mothers have various exceptions and breastfeeding in public is one of those. Mainly because, when a child is hungry, a child is hungry and needs to be fed regardless of the environment.
Child development includes having parents or a caregiver at the quickest disposal and this period can be challenging for mothers especially, because of having to carry out other normal duties around the house and official business. There are families that can easily afford a child-minder and others may not and this has been one of the challenges brought up during child nurturing discussions. Kenyan laws clearly stipulate maternal benefits that allow both parents to be home for a period of time. But let us be realistic, it does not always work this way and a parent may be forced to carry their child to work.
This happened recently to a Kwale county parliamentarian who brought her five-month-old baby to the National Assembly proceedings and all hell broke loose. The serving Speaker Christopher Omulele, ordered her removal from the chambers quoting that it was against the rules and regulations of the house. According to Zuleika Hassan, she had an emergency at home and she had to bring her child along instead of forfeiting the meeting.
“I had an emergency and decided not to miss work but come with the baby. She is not an atomic bomb and can’t explode,” Ms Hassan said.
The Sergeant of Arms who was moving towards removing her and the infant was blocked away by other female MPs who raised their concern on why the motion passed in 2013 directing the Parliamentary Service Commission to set aside a room within Parliament buildings for breastfeeding mothers has not been implemented six years down the line. This did not only affect the mother but the innocent child. The shock she must have gotten from the commotion and ruffling up.
Mothers have to be allowed breastfeed and care for their children in a condusive environment. Besides, a child “is not an atomic bomb and can’t explode,”
This altercation happened during the World Breastfeeding Week campaign August 1-7, 2019 and it sparked huge online and offline conversation on the impression of children going to work with their parents. We should have safe spaces where these children can be comfortable and and their mothers close.
Crèche are special rooms or rather a nursery where babies are cared for during the working hours. The policies to have these rooms have been implemented in a few organizations although most of these firms are yet to. The incident at the national assembly was a real time example just to show that governmental companies are not well equipped to cater for nursing mothers.