Giving Twin Brothers in Kenya a Healthy Start with Breastfeeding
Editor’s Note: Last week, Action Against Hunger joined the NGO community in celebrating World Breastfeeding Week, running August 1st-7th and shared a heartwarming story about some of our work to promote breastfeeding in Kenya. This week, we're sharing another story about the importance of breastfeeding. Stay tuned later this month for one more success story!
A recent visit to Pelpel village in Central Pokot Sub-county, Kenya, took us to the home of twin boys, Porriot and Musto. Their parents raise livestock, and migrate often in search of pasture for their animals.
Their mother, Chepokuo, knew she was carrying twins and travelled long distances to the nearest health facility so she could attend prenatal health sessions. The boys were born in June 2013. When their due date arrived, Musto was born first. After encountering some difficulties during delivery, Chepukuo’s birth attendant rushed her to a health facility nearly 20 miles away, where Musto was taken for a check-up and his brother Porriot was safely delivered.
Twin brothers, different challenges
Having learned the importance of breastfeeding, Chepokuo wanted both of her boys to have a healthy start. But while Porriot began nursing immediately, Musto had difficulty with it. Chepokuo tried several times to nurse Musto, but was unsuccessful. Instead, she fed him by expressing milk, a nursing technique that doesn’t require the baby to suckle. But when she was discharged from the hospital and returned home, cultural practices discouraged expressing milk, so her only other option was to feed Musto milk from cows and goats.
At six months, the boys were introduced to Paan, a mixture of cornmeal and milk. Because he had so much trouble nursing, Musto was only fed Paan, while Porriot’s diet was supplemented by breast milk.
As the boys grew, it was evident that, unlike Musto, Porriot was more attached to their mother, and was constantly gaining weight. When the boys visited the post-natal clinic, the distinct difference in their weight was evident: Porriot weighed around 18 pounds, which is within the normal weight range for his age. But Musto was underweight and short for his age: at 12 months old, he weighed just 12 pounds, his milestones were delayed, and he could not stand upright without support.
Hope for Musto
Thankfully, there is a window of opportunity to correct this situation. The first thousand days of development—from the start of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday—are not yet over for Musto.
During our home visit, we enrolled Musto in a therapeutic feeding program in a newly-initiated outreach site in Pelpel village, so he can get the specialized care he needs. Chepokuo has also been introduced to a new Mother to Mother Support Group, where she will receive health education on appropriate feeding practices for her twins so they can both grow up healthy.