Inflation: I used bundle of old clothes as maternity pads

Christine Atieno a mother of twins during the interview with nation.africa at a single room home where she lives with the mother in Dandora, Nairobi on May 6, 2022.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mother of three has not been able to produce enough milk for her three-month-old twins.
  • Twins weighed 2.1kgs when they were born but they now weigh 1.2kgs due to malnutrition.
  • Her husband moved to the village after losing his job and succumbing to alcoholism.

Christine Atieno, 33, is a mother of three living in Dandora

 “The hardest part of being a mother at this time is not being able to produce enough milk for my three-month-old twins. The doctor prescribed some drugs for me, to increase my milk supply but they are too expensive to purchase.

My children weighed 2.1kgs when they were born but they now weigh 1.2kgs due to malnutrition. I cannot produce enough milk to feed them so I have to supplement their feed with porridge and pasteurised milk. This made them sick and the doctor warned me against feeding them porridge at three months. However, this is the only food I can afford.

I tried checking the price for supplementary milk brands like Nan and quickly decided that the price was too prohibitive. My mother says she used to buy a tin at Sh700, now it retails at Sh1,500.She also thinks that having twins is a “burden’’ in these economic times.

Clinic visits to Mbagathi Hospital (Nairobi) have also been difficult. The fare has increased tremendously over the last year. I would normally have spent Sh360 but now I have to spend Sh1,000 on bus fare. I would rather buy food for my family than attend each clinic visit.

Life has been a rollercoaster of events in the past year. I had a difficult pregnancy having been diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes during my first-trimester. Linda Mama Free Maternity Care Program was my saving grace when I was hospitalised for pregnancy complications. I remember having to bundle old clothes to use as maternity pads because I could not afford to buy any. I also have to force my first born child into his old school uniforms because they are now too expensive.

Ms Atieno says life has been a rollercoaster of events in the past year. 

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

I wish my husband could assist me but after losing his job in the scrap metal business, which was banned, he left the city for his rural home. This was after he succumbed to alcoholism and sold everything we owned.

I now live with my elderly mother and sister in a single room in Dandora. The house is so small that my children and I have to sleep on the cold floor. We frequently go hungry because food and cooking oil prices are so high. We have reduced our meals to one or two a day.

This exacerbates my milk production problem because if I do not eat well, I cannot feed my children. Every resource has been channelled towards feeding my children. There is hardly anything left for us to start business ventures. I used to sell curtains at Dandora Market before I became pregnant. I wish I could raise Sh20,000 to restart my business.

Editor’s note: Nation.Africa and The Fuller Project produced this dispatch as part of our “Inflation” project, a collection of firsthand accounts on how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting the daily lives of women around the world.




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