Being born in Africa and now living in the United Kingdom, Claire always knew that when she had babies, she would want to raise them in Africa. When she found out she was pregnant, she did what many pregnant women do. She bought and read many books on pregnancy regarding what to expect and what to do. She thought by reading the books and following the “steps” she would be doing everything right in regards to caring for her baby. That was until she spoke with her grandmother and learned valuable lessons. Her grandmother stated, “Babies don’t read books – and really all I needed to do was “read” my baby.” Everything Claire had read indicated that African babies cry less than European babies. She was intrigued by this and wanted to know more.
When she went home to Kenya to have her child, she observed how the babies were carried. She said you could barely see the children. Let me explain. They were so well wrapped in protective blankets that they were hard to see. This was even the case with older children. They would just be wrapped in larger blankets, like a cocoon.
After giving birth Claire’s child did cry. She cried a lot. She had forgotten everything she read from the books and was feeling overwhelmed. That was until her grandmother came to visit and gave her pearls of wisdom. She told her that the crying would stop if she just breastfed, even when the child was not hungry. The loving gesture and posture needed for breast-feeding comforts the child’s in a very natural way.
Here is Claire’s grandmother’s wonderful philosophy:
Offer the breast every single moment that your baby is upset – even if you have just fed her.
Co-sleep. Many times you can feed your baby before they are fully awake, which will allow them to go back to sleep easier and get you more rest.
Always take a flask of warm water to bed with you at night to keep you hydrated and the milk flowing.
Make the feeding your priority (especially during growth spurts) and get everyone else around you to do as much as they can for you. There is very little that cannot wait.
Read your baby, not the books. Breast-feeding is not linear – it goes up and down (and also in circles). You are the expert on your baby’s needs.
This worked for Claire, although extremely time-consuming.
Many fewer African women who now live in the Wester countries initiate this practice. It is said to be due to financial reasons as well as the fact that they must return to work much quicker, making breastfeeding this frequently impossible. This is not to say that African women in America do not breast-feed, many do, but research shows that much less do than those living in Africa.