By Lubalethu Ndlovu
Jesca Mudzimu (23), a first time mother from Cowdray Park suburb in Bulawayo, says at a time when many young mothers are stopping giving their children breast milk early because of commitments, she will continue to breast feed her baby until she gets to two years.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing an increase in the number of teen pregnancies. Young mothers are often forced to stop breastfeeding in order to pursue their education or work. Other women stop breastfeeding because of work commitments.
Jesca says although she has other commitments, she will make efforts to continue breastfeeding.
“I breastfeed my child so that she gets all the required nutrients for her growth. I want her to grow healthy. Most of the baby foods on the market may not have all the balanced nutrition that babies need. I want my child to get all the required nutrients and these may only be available from breast milk,” says Jesca.
Jesca gave birth to her baby girl on October 3, 2020 at Mpilo hospital. She says although she needs to work to earn income, her baby is her priority.
“I know that breast milk acts as an antibiotic against different diseases such as fever, flue among others. Since she cannot take medicines for such ailments, breast milk is her medicine. Also it has enough water which ensures that she is not dehydrated,” says Jesca.
Jesca adds that breastfeeding helps her bond with her baby as it is one of the moments she would not want to miss even though the process might be hurtful and strenuous at times.
“The best part is that I get to bond with my baby. The funny noises and gestures she makes when I am breastfeeding her are priceless. However there are also times when I feel low especially when I have to breastfeed in the middle of the night. I will be sleepy and tired. Sometimes she bites my nipples and it is painful,” says Jesca.
Jesca says she does not give her daughter any supplementary feeding. She says she once tried it but her daughter seemed not to like it.
“I have resolved that I will breakfast my baby until she is two years old. I once tried giving her some baby formula but she did not like it. So I do not supplement with other baby foods,” says Jesca.
Another young parent, Wenkosi Ndaba (23) supports the idea of prolonged breastfeeding saying that it is the healthiest source of food her baby boy. She says doing so makes her connected to him.
“Breast milk is the healthiest and clean food to give to a baby. I love doing it. Somehow it makes me feel special to him,” says Wenkosi.
Wenkosi adds that there are many benefits to breastfeeding.
“A well fed child is a happy child, the milk is readily available so the child is never hungry, it strengthens his body and helps him grow,” says Wenkosi.
August 1 to 7 is recognised as the World Breastfeeding Week, an annual celebration which is held every year to promote breastfeeding. The World Health Organisations says the focus of the 2021 World Breastfeeding Week was on the ways breastfeeding contributes to the survival, health and wellbeing of people, and the need to protect breastfeeding worldwide.
For Jesca and Wenkosi, breastfeeding is a personal conviction based on their understanding of the medical and social benefits of breast feeding their babies.
This article was written as part of the Creative Centre for Communication and Development (CCCD) project that seeks to strengthen the voices of women and girls, especially under the grim impact of the Coronavirus (COVID 19). CCCD has used the WhatsApp mobile application to train women and girls so that they express their voices on what is happening in their communities.