The biggest worry of every mother particularly in our part of the world, is how to leave her baby home when official leave is ended. In some organizations, mothers are not even afforded the bare minimum 3 months-not even that 3 months is good enough. I have seen a few mothers struggle to work along with their newborns, majority with no option but to leave their little innocents at home for the better part of the day, in the hands of grossly inexperienced housemaids.
God’s wisdom destined that a newborn child’s number one meal would be Breast Milk. It is automatically manufactured by the body to perfection. No need for boiling, no need to adjust temperature, no need to spice it. Every mother, young or old, rich and poor alike, can afford it.
Painfully, because mothers must return to their official jobs after their leave, babies must be subjected to alternative solutions which most times will never be as good as God’s original plan. At the same time, mothers must painfully carry baby’s breast milk all day long, as the rightful beneficiary struggles to adjust to the artificial teat on an artificial breast, administered by an artificial mother.
While this is definitely a challenge of our times, and one that we must attempt to cope with, the manufacturers of baby formula are enjoying themselves by making colossal profit from their products. There are quite a number of powdered baby milk products on the market, quite pricy though and mainly poised for the well-to-do. Other parents must put up with ordinary cow milk which comes with immense limitations. Many of our children have managed to grow amidst all these difficulties anyhow. Our Second born started taking cow milk when 5 months old and it worked. However, children tend respond differently.
When our baby Kyl was born 4 months ago, we bought a starter tin of powdered milk to augment breast milk in times of need. It was pretty much a requirement by the hospital as an emergency measure in case the mother wasn’t able to have adequate milk in the initial stages. We continued to use this formula intermittently, also to help prepare the baby as mother’s leave neared the end. In the last few days however, we realized the milk formula was starting to look strange, and the baby was having periodic tummy upsets.
On reading through the hundreds of text branded on the milk tin, and somewhere hidden, there was a warning reading that the milk should not be used beyond one month after the tin has been opened!!! Gosh, such a serious limitation printed in such a way that any parent would miss it. It turned out that we had missed the warning and as such, exceeded the expiry date (after opening) by 3 full months, which definitely made the baby sick. Now, even a single day is way too much for a baby considering how fragile babies are. I checked with other mums, and many truthfully had never known the said limitation. They too have unknowingly been administering spoilt milk to their babies.
Alcohol manufacturers are usually required to indicate clearly in bold that Alcohol is dangerous and should not be sold to persons under 18. But here is baby milk, and a warning that should prevent babies from getting sick, which is so hidden and not prioritized. One wonders just how many babies are getting sick as a result of spoilt formula-and the pain of unsuspecting parents poisoning their own children. And many of these products are imported into the country without paying attention to detail.
I also realize that baby formula products are sold on the open market in supermarkets like any other food products. These supermarkets are mostly looking at making extra profits and will never be so kind on pricing to enable average earners to afford. One small tin of SMA milk in some supermarkets goes for as high as 50,000/-. Besides, I am not sure whether the supermarkets are competent enough to ensure that baby milk is kept in the best conditions or to even ascertain that it is not adulterated. Perhaps baby products ought to be sold through very specific distributors with ample competence in baby health and nutritional needs. Just thinking aloud.
When all is said and done, I also find it imperative that we should collectively begin to think out pragmatic options geared towards keeping as close enough as possible to God’s original plan for creation. Employers should provide ample enabling environment for working mothers to continue breastfeeding their babies? It could be as simple as availing a fairly furnished room where a helper could stay with the baby and the mother occasionally walks in to breastfeed. Surely while people need the money, we should not let life’s pressures override our human fiber. It is not fair to see mothers suffering with painful breasts filled with milk at offices while their babies gnash back home with formula. It is a challenge of our times and the earlier we accept this reality, the better for our future generations.
Thanks to my wife’s organization, she managed to have 5 months of leave, and as such I can take over at this point and fill both mother and father roles while she’s away for the time being, but how I wish I at least had one breast! I also wish many fathers played an active role in “mothering” their babies because these little ones are honestly quite mouthful in terms of demand for attention.
Well, since babies don’t talk and cannot voice their concerns, it is important for us to talk for them by putting ourselves in their shoes for a moment. I am the baby, and mother is leaving at 6.00am and returning at 7.00pm keeping my natural breast milk away all this long. The maid mixes my formula poorly and forces me sometimes to drink when I don’t want. The maid sometimes doesn’t respond to my feeding needs in time as mother normally does. I definitely cannot understand what’s going on, why mother cannot be there when I need her, especially to give me food. That is why I cry so loud every day until mother is back. And like many people say nowadays, “Government etuyambe….Government should help us.”
Let’s work together and save our babies from the trauma meted on them by the madding in our world.
By: Tumusiime Deo
Independent Writer and parent