By: Thomas Kojo Roulhac
Monrovia- As the world breastfeeding week, from August 1 to 7, has been observed throughout the globe, Fenny Louise Taylor, a Feminist and Reproductive and Sexual Health Right Advocate could not cease to share her experience about the impact of breastfeeding on every young child’s life.
Madam Taylor is the Co- Founder of Urmonae Health Liberia. She holds a master's in Reproductive and Sexual Health research from the London school of hygiene and tropical medicine.
The Co- founder of Urmonae Health Liberia is a baby mother herself, and in honor of world breastfeeding week, she is calling for a breastfeeding-friendly environment to properly execute the breastfeeding mandate.
“My baby and I will hit an important milestone in our breastfeeding journey on the 24th of August. I will have breastfed him for six months exclusively and I am proud of us both and the community and environment that helped us reach this point,” she posted on her Facebook page.
Madam Taylor added: “Working in the health sector exposed me to breastfeeding and its benefits. Every day there is some NGO or INGO talking about breastfeeding and the importance of exclusively breastfeeding for six months, the phrase ‘baby ma give your baby taytay water’ is embedded in our society.”
Despite her passion for breastfeeding, she wants the government of Liberia and its development partners both local and international to put their words into action by providing a safe environment for mothers to breastfeed their little ones.
“Ensure that employers have a breastfeeding-friendly space this simply means a special room should be kept aside for working breastfeeding moms, it's a place they can carry their babies to work with a nanny and breastfeed when baby needs to eat,” she said.
According to her, since becoming a mother, she has wondered if the government and its development partners really want babies’ breastfed or just for formality purposes.
She added: “If they truly want to see more breastfed babies then by now they would stop the jingles and start supporting women on their breastfeeding journey.”
“This is a love letter to those INGO/NGO and the government of Liberia, to you all I say it's time to put some spine in your back and do the real work.”
She furthers that asking women to breastfeed and educating them on the benefits of it is not enough. Madam Taylor called for trained nurses and midwives to become lactation consultants and that hospitals including communities must have a breastfeeding support team.
“I cannot begin to tell you how pivotal my midwife who was also a breastfeeding lactation consultant was in helping me breastfeed well. Lactation consultants can help with painful nipples, milk supply, breastfeeding positions, and other common nursing problems,” she said.
Madam Taylor added: “Not only did she care for my physical needs but she cared for my mental health during this entire time. Most days I would worry if my son was getting enough milk and she was there to ease my anxieties and assure me that he was and that he would be just fine.”
She also calls for the extension of maternity leave from three to six months. That way, she could make mothers breastfeed their kids exclusively for six months and not for the three-month leave given to mothers.
“I have heard countless stories of women who desired to breastfeed exclusively for six months but couldn't because they had to go back to work and by the time they got home it was the end of the day, slowly their milk supply dropped and their child had to start formula earlier than planned,” she said.