Exclusive Breastfeeding: The Ideal Choice for Healthy Children and Mothers

Speeches Shim

Thursday, July 21, 2022
Fatou Doumbia and her youngest child
USAID Keneya Nieta

“Nowadays, thanks to what I learned from USAID Keneya Nieta and my success applying this knowledge, I am viewed in my village as a reference on nutrition in general and on infant and young child feeding in particular. In addition to the advice I share with families during home visits, other women ask me for nutritional advice, especially on exclusive breastfeeding and on recipes from the nutritional demonstrations.” says Fatou, a Kouma village GSAN member

Fatou Doumbia, age 34 and the mother of 7 children, is a member of the support group for nutrition activities (GSAN) in Kouma village, Bougouni health district. Two years ago, Fatou became pregnant within less than one year after giving birth to her youngest child.

“Because my next youngest child was still breastfeeding, I was determined to adopt exclusive breastfeeding for the newborn to ensure not only his healthy growth, but also to avoid the mistake I made by bringing the pregnancies closer together.”

Fatou was concerned that she had not spaced births further apart because breastfeeding the baby meant that she might have to wean her youngest early from breastmilk. “Being afraid of the consequences that a child may face after early weaning, I was embarrassed. I was still not sure if I could guarantee feeding both children as much as I wanted,” says Fatou.

USAID Keneya Nieta reduces maternal, neonatal, and infant mortality through high-impact interventions in communities like Kouma where project staff trained Fatou and other GSAN members on ways that they can prevent malnutrition prevention, and improve infant and young child feeding. With support from her husband and father-in-law, Fatou applied lessons learned about nutrition to address the challenges she faced in her own family. 

Fatou’s story serves as a model for others in her community: "I used the new skills I acquired through Keneya Nieta to ensure the nutrition of my children by feeding the oldest child with fortified porridge and breastfeeding the other child exclusively until six months. These two practices have been beneficial to me since the fortified porridge has protected the child who was weaned early from becoming malnourished and the newborn is being exclusively breastfed, which is also keeping me from getting pregnant again within the baby’s first year. All the women in the village were amazed to see my two children growing up normally and in good health.”

Since July 2021, USAID Keneya Nieta, implemented by University Research Co., LLC in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Development has worked with 3,582 GSAN’s to improve maternal, neonatal, and child health in communities throughout the Mopti, Ségou, and Sikasso regions

Last updated: August 25, 2022

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