Mariatu, 29 years old, lives in Bombali District, Sierra Leone. Mariatu became a beneficiary of International Medical Corps’ nutrition program when she was pregnant with her first child. She was very active in the program and was chosen to be a Lead Mother for a Mother Care Group. A Mother Care Group is an innovative approach to combat malnutrition at the community level. Model “Lead Mothers”, like Mariatu, learn how to communicate essential health and nutrition topics to new mothers in their community and become responsible for improving family and child health in their area. The following is her story of how and why she chose to breastfeed her twin babies.
As a mother of three children, I became pregnant with my twins when my first child was just two years and nine months old. I was happy because I practiced continued breastfeeding till my child was over 2 years. I found it challenging to exclusively breastfeed my first child initially, as I had sore nipples and less breast milk. However, with knowledge gained from the sessions on supplemental nutrition assistance program in the care group, and as a lead mother telling other care unit members of optimal breastfeeding, I tried very hard to maintain exclusive breastfeeding for my child even with the soar nipples. I started complementary feeding when my child was six months old.
I became pregnant again and was informed during my fourth antenatal visit at the Community Health Center (CHC) that I was carrying twins. Fortunately, I had very safe delivery at the CHC, where my twin babies were immediately introduced to breast milk within the first one-hour of life. I was discharged from the CHC three days after delivery. As a mother of three, and my husband with a low income earning job, I do support my family with the proceeds from the sale of vegetables. After delivery, I had to immediately return to the sale of vegetables to support my family. To exclusively breastfeed twins, maintain my vegetable garden and sales, household chores and my lead mother role in the community is quite challenging. However, the recognition I get from my peers and community and seeing my children growing healthy have being the driving force for me to uphold standard nutrition and health behaviors.
My babies have been extremely doing fine. Our main concern as parents is to ensure that I eat well and keep them clean. They are about five months as I speak and they do not disturb. I plan to take them for the next baby show competition in this chiefdom and I know I will be among the winners of healthy babies.