Field note

Good feeding practices don’t just happen

01 Sep 13
Topic(s): Complementary feeding
Location: Ethiopia
Language(s): English
Audience: Policy makers and legislators
Programs: Policy advocacy

On Friday, September 21, 2012, I gave birth in a nearby health center to my second daughter.  Her father and I named her Bethlehem. We were happy. God had blessed our family with a healthy and strong baby. I thank God and all that have helped me. During my pregnancy, Shewaye Adisu (the neighborhood health extension worker), regularly visited and taught me all the necessary actions I needed to take to prepare for the delivery. The day I gave birth, she was the one who took me to the health center, together with my husband and mother in-law. Just after the delivery, I was tired.  The nurse who attended my case advised me to start breastfeeding within an hour. I did just that, and the placenta came out easily. That was a huge relief.

Photo: Author, Tarike Hariso with her daughter, Bethlehem Markos, Homecha Chewa Kebele, Aleta Wendo Wereda, SNNP region

Forty-five days later, I went to Homecha Chews Health Post for my child’s immunization. While I was there, I attended a demonstration on the preparation of complementary foods by Shewaye and her colleague. They advised me to continue practicing exclusive breastfeeding until Bethlehem reached six months and then to introduce complementary foods. Again, this was good advice.  At six months, I began preparing porridge from commonly available cereals like maize, sorghum, barley, and teff. In addition, I used common root crops easily available in our areas like ensete (false banana).

Bethlehem is now one year old. The health extension workers (HEWs) visit and counsel me regularly. They watch as I prepare the porridge and encourage me to feed Bethlehem eggs, vegetables, legumes, milk, and meat. We can’t afford to include milk and meat regularly in the porridge, so I usually use legumes instead. I like the leaflet that the HEWs gave me because it reminds me of good feeding practices.

Besides the health workers, my husband Markos Disdmo has been very supportive.  He is such a good, reliable person. Markos is busy day and night. He has never failed to put food on our table. He loves his daughters, cares for them, and provides me with all the things I need. He even prepared a garden plot that supplies our family with a variety of vegetables.

Thanks to the support I’ve received from my husband and the health workers, Bethlehem is stronger and healthier than her older sister. I see a significant difference. She has never been sick and continues to grow. I pray that she will be a talented, successful student and one day become a medical doctor.  I’ll do my part by ensuring that Bethlehem continues to get good food and care.

By Tarike Harriso

(The National Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Strategy for Ethiopia attributes the high prevalence of poor child feeding practices in part to high levels of illiteracy among mothers and insufficient knowledge of good feeding practices by health care providers and families. The strategy calls for robust intervention. Alive & Thrive Ethiopia aims to promote optimal IYCF practices through targeted thought leader and public education, community capacity building, and interpersonal counseling by trained health extension workers and volunteers. This story is a mother’s personal account of the impact of timely and accurate feeding information and support received at a health facility and at home.)