KENYA: Online Groups Replace Traditional Motherhood Advice

KENYA: Online Groups Replace Traditional Motherhood Advice


Last Sunday, my closest friend became a mother for the first time. It has been excitement galore from all the people who know her: her family, her friends, her colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances, and just about everybody.

When I visited her in hospital, I found myself giving her all kinds of advice about motherhood from breastfeeding, to weaning, to walking, to teething, all that and more.

Then I quickly told her that I would add her to some Facebook groups that would be of great help to her as a new mum. I began by adding her to a group that is exclusive to Kenyan mums who are breastfeeding. As I did so, I amused myself at how Kenyan mums have turned Facebook into their go-to resource center.

There are plenty of Facebook groups by and for Kenyan mums whose membership constitutes a certain phase of the motherhood journey.

For example, when one is trying to conceive, there is a group to join. When she conceives, she then swiftly moves on to a group for pregnant mums. Once she has her baby, she moves on to the next group –that of breastfeeding mums. After that its a group dedicated to weaning, and where nutrition advice is offered –by fellow mums.

Online Replaces African Mother Advice

Then there are also larger groups made up of Kenyan mums with babies of whatever age, a general group where everything about motherhood is discussed. From schools, to detergents, to diapers, to cooking fat, tissue paper, to the very critical issue of house girls (nannies). Everything goes. Each of these groups have thousands of members, with one even having slightly over 90,000 members!

I have been in all of these groups, and I am still members in some of them.

In the traditional African setting of the past, new mums were guided into the motherhood journey by the older women around them: their mothers, their aunts, their grandmothers, older cousins and female neighbors.

However, in today’s society some of these traditional fabrics are slowly ebbing away.

More women have to work to supplement the family income, which leaves little option for staying at home to look after the children. In fact, we are seeing less and less of the special interactions between generations of women when it comes to raising her child.

Consequently, we are turning to our friends, our online friends, most of them strangers, for advice that would otherwise have been given to us by our ‘African mothers.’ Combine that with modern technology where access to the internet in many African urban cities is growing, and accessing information and connecting with mums online becomes inevitable.

Sometimes when I think about it, I believe it’s unfortunate, especially for those of us who live in the urban towns, that we no longer have easy access to those traditional pieces of motherhood advice that we would have received directly from our mothers. But, in turn, we are grateful about how the internet has made our parenting journeys significantly easier for our modern lifestyles. Because, it truly has. But, it is only natural to wonder if we may be missing out on something lost.

How has online motherhood support played into your experience as a mother?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by contributor Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama of Kenya. 

Photo credit of Kenyan women to the author. 

Quote image credit to World Moms Blog. 

Maryanne Waweru Wanyama

Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, a mother of two boys, writes for a living. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya with her family. Maryanne, a Christian who is passionate about telling stories, hopes blogging will be a good way for her to engage in her foremost passion as she spreads the message of hope and faith through her own experiences and those of other women, children, mums and dads. She can be found at Mummy Tales.

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NEW ZEALAND: Little Events, Big Moments

NEW ZEALAND: Little Events, Big Moments

With no definitive family religion, it’s been one of my conscious parenting decisions to create and maintain family rituals on which my kids can hang their memories.

One that began five years ago, when my youngest was just over a year old, was sleeping in the lounge (family room) for a night. It’s one of those times the kids love, and I enjoy because they get so much pleasure from it. It’s a little event, in the picture of raising them, but it’s become really important for our sense of togetherness.

Last night, we had our first sleep in the lounge in our new home. To tell the truth, I’d been avoiding it. I’ve been working three part-time jobs for the past few months and our clocks have just changed to Daylight Savings Time, here, in New Zealand. Being a solo parent has been fine, but it requires a lot of concentration, no zoning-out hoping that someone else will share the load: there is no-one else around.

I was exhausted and in need of the best night’s sleep I could get. But it’s also school holidays and if it hadn’t happened now, it was unlikely we’d have it before Christmas.

2015 WMB Quote Karyn Wills

The boys were great, they organised a queen sized mattress for the youngest and I, and pulled out piles of duvets and pillows. The excitement level was high, and there were no complaints about wifi turning off and devices going away. The fun began with pillow fights and giggles, wrestling, cold feet being placed on the warm backs and stomachs of others and, eventually, somehow, naked boys and intense belly-laughs.

It was fun. Great fun. And I could feel the sense of comradeship increase over that half hour or so. Then I turned out the lights and called a halt to the shenanigans.

We began to chat in the dark. I told them anything said would be held in confidence and was not to leave the room. I asked the first question: “What scares you and what excites you?” My eldest followed up with, “What’s a thorn from this week and a rose from this week?” These were great starters, all three responded openly and age-appropriately. As did I. Then the magic happened.

I asked my boys if there was anything I needed to know.

Their responses to that were phenomenal: open, vulnerable, honest and real. Their authenticity blew me away and long after they were all sleeping, I lay awake considering what they had shared. It truly was one of those big moments in life.

And when three alarms went off at 6.30am I found I had slept the best I had all week. Go figure.

Do you have family rituals? Have you had small events that have turned out to be big moments in your parenting?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Karyn Wills of Napier, New Zealand. 

Image credit to World Moms Blog. 


Karyn Wills

Karyn is a teacher, writer and solo mother to three sons. She lives in the sunny wine region of Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand in the city of Napier.

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USA: Feeling Tired, World Moms?

USA: Feeling Tired, World Moms?

World Moms Global Call To Action

Recently, I’ve felt like I was running on empty and had entered a new state of exhaustion. It started gradually about a year ago, and as I am inching up to year 40, I assumed this is just what it was like to be growing older.

During the summer, I was constantly falling asleep in my clothes from the night before, sometimes in one of my daughters’ beds, while putting the kids to sleep. Other times, it would be on the couch after cleaning up from dinner. I couldn’t operate like I used to. I thought, “This is it. I can’t keep up my usual pace. I’m burning out.”

I don’t drink coffee, with the exception of the occasional tiramisu dessert. I just don’t like the taste, unless it involves lady fingers and sugar! I drink a cup of green or white tea in the morning, but I thought, “Is this how moms are getting through? Do I need something stronger? Should I start drinking coffee?”

I decided to try a few things first before I made the plunge to cocoa beans. First, I tried exercise. I was running around with the kids, always on my feet, but I wasn’t raising my heart rate enough. I always got a boost from starting to exercise, but this time, nothing.

Then I decided it must be stress. Running the website was taking its toll, I thought. I have to do less, so this summer, we pulled back a bit, while many of our kids were home from school. I knew we would pick up again once we get to September.

And during the summer the kids and I seemed unstoppable. We were swimming, hiking, traveling. You name it. We were doing it! Having them off of school for 10 weeks, I felt like we had to carpe diem! But, by the evening my carpe was nowhere to be found. And my ability to keep up during the day was challenged. I panted more on hikes and walking uphill was so much more difficult than it had ever been.

Also, instead of a best friend, my husband was living with an exhausted mess, me. We weren’t staying up late playing marathon games of Mancala, watching movies or anything else exciting for that matter, because my day was over by the time the kids were to bed, and I was being woken every morning by the kids while he was off to work. It was a tough cycle.

And, did I mention that I was gaining weight, too? I was awake less hours over time, and I was lacking my normal energy levels. Overtime, the problem was affecting my ability to button my pants (that’s trousers for the international crowd). I just bought the size up, ignoring the expansion and getting on with my life.

I even thought that maybe it was lack of vitamin B12 because I don’t eat meat, so I started to take B12 pills. They weren’t giving me more energy, but I still continued to take them. I was desperate.

I finally came to the conclusion that I couldn’t live like this. It was affecting my kids, my marriage, my work, my life. If it’s not just me getting older, not a lack of exercise (at least not directly, but I still could use more), not stress, and the B12 isn’t helping, I needed to go to the doctor.

It was hard to make the appointment because every morning I would have energy again, so I’d blow it off, thinking it was a waste of time because I was feeling better today and that I was finally over this. Then every evening, the exhaustion hit me like a brick wall.

So, I booked an appointment and explained to my doctor what was going on. She said I was due for blood work, so she ordered a full work up. I was too busy with the kids to have time to worry about what it could be. I had a follow up appointment with my doctor the next week to go over my results.

It turned out that I was anemic. Very anemic. And, it was, oh, so fixable.

But then I got hard on myself. Why did I feel like I had to figure it out myself at first? Why didn’t I just head to the doctor when I was feeling like this in the first place??!!

After one week of prescribed iron pills, I was feeling a major boost. I could stay awake after the kids went to bed! I had energy to exercise! My husband has his best friend back! Even our World Moms Blog newsletter has finally gone out!

Being a parent and, thus, caregiver, if it was my kid who was feeling this way, I’d be at the doctor’s office in a heart beat. Why, when it was myself, the appointment with my doctor was put on the backburner? We can’t forget to put our own oxygen masks on.

So, World Moms, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to immediately right now, or if that’s impossible, schedule yourself an hour in your calendar for this week, immediately, to check in with your health.

Are you up to date with your mammograms? When was your last gynecological appointment? Are you seeing a doctor on a reactionary basis – when was the last time you booked yourself in for a physical?

Everyone is different, and my story of trying to self diagnose is a bit embarrassing. Especially because I could have solved this in one doctors visit months ago! I was popping B12 pills that I didn’t need, and if it was something more serious, I could have nipped it in the bud.

Did this post ring a bell with you? Are you feeling tired? What are you planning to do about it?

This is an original post by World Mom and founder, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA.

Photo credit to the author.  

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post,, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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INDIA: Interview with Piya Mukherjee of #WorldMoms

INDIA: Interview with Piya Mukherjee of #WorldMoms

piya mukherjee - pic 2

Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?

I live in Mumbai, India and have lived here since birth. However, work and leisure have taken me to many different pockets of India and of the world. It’s a tad ironical that someone with “wanderlust” should also be a happy citizen of a single city for a long time!


What language(s) do you speak?

I speak English, Hindi (the national language), Bengali / Bangla (my mother tongue), some Marathi (the language of the state where I live) and a sprinkling of words in French remembered from my school and college days! 🙂


When did you first become a mother (year/age)?

I had just turned 26 when Abhishek was born.


Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work inside or outside the home?

Surprisingly, the answer to this question is – both! When my son arrived, I moved into full-time parenting and slowly progressed to weaving my work around his schedules. Later, this took the form of freelance and flexi-time work. Over the years, my son grew – as did my work. However what remains constant is my “being there” when needed – exam study times, “I need to discuss with you” times, ill times, sad and happy times.  So yes, I work, but if there is a toss-up between parenting and work, parenting would win hands-down! Hence I like to think of myself as a professional who also works with the mind-set of a stay at home mom.


Why do you blog/write?

Because the thoughts in my heart and mind wear the words of their choice and seek expression in my diaries, journals and laptop! Because they will not be denied. Because they echo my deepest, most sacred beliefs. And because I believe in the power of such words in forging and linking like-minded souls across the planet.

piya mukherjee - india - pic 1

What makes you unique as a mother?

Every chuckle and laugh that motherhood has brought me, every tear I’ve shed, every epiphany that seemingly simple moments have brought me, every dream my heart has nurtured, every fear that has kept me awake and every hope that I’ve cherished – these have all contributed to the tapestry of this special, challenging, wondrous and joyous journey of motherhood. That makes me a unique mother – like the other mothers on this planet (no, that’s not a paradox!). Aren’t we then all unique mothers? 🙂

And oh, I must mention that over the past 18 years or so, I’ve been very active in the education domain. Being a teacher-trainer, allows me to bring some much-needed understanding into the classroom and some objectivity in terms of dealing with growing-up milestones, in my home! The cross-pollination of experiences and learnings helps!


What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?

The world today probably offers more choices and faster time-buckets for changes and decision-making than ever before. The flipside is this: emotional resilience and intellectual maturity don’t quite grow at the same rate as techo-skills and expressions of individuality. Which leads to a world that teeters between the “I” and the “We” paradigms of identity. Raising a child to navigate this course is what makes parenting a challenging task today.


How did you find World Moms Blog?

I was searching for some “soul-food” for mothers on the Internet. Some random clicks brought me to this website, and I was interested…then intrigued…and then hooked. But then again, Vedanta (a school of philosophical thought of India) teaches us that nothing is truly random! So this was meant to be. 🙂

Piya On Writing At WMB

Do you you have any questions for Piya? 

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by new contributors, Piya Mukherjee of India.

Photo credits to the author. 

GUEST POST: INDIA: Pregnancy and Solar Eclipses!

GUEST POST: INDIA: Pregnancy and Solar Eclipses!

Indian Pregnancy Eclipse

Total Eclipse of My Pregnancy

In India, some say the most awesome time of any woman’s life is when they get pregnant. You have life in your body, share all that you feel and have lots of company. This is also a time when  you will have your husband doing everything thing for you, provided you ask for it. However, if you happen to be a woman who has a pseudo ego of being self reliant and who has never asked for many favours in life, this is not a comfortable time. This was me.

Looking back, it was silly not to have taken advantage of the help of my husband and my extended joint family including, my mother in law, co sister, their respective husbands and their daughters, all of whom I still live with. It’s true. We, Indians, live like this with lot of people to give us company all the time. We hate and love them simultaneously.

I wanted to be so self reliant that I never wanted them to cook anything special for me!! Not even once during my all nine months. I made it to term although my whole extended family wanted me to deliver my child as early as possible, probably in the first month!! They were just too excited to welcome a new member in the house and extend the extended family a little more. It had been 18 years since our family had the chance to welcome new cute baby!

However, their enthusiasm was a little too overwhelming, as even my doctors suggested mildly to get a C section done after I crossed 36th month. My family had become restless and could not wait. As a mother I was excited to meet my baby, too, but I wanted my child when the time was right. Not early and not late. And, I adhered to that. I did not succumb to any pressure.

Well, ok, I was strong except for when it came to my aunties…

During my pregnancy, thrice I received calls from my frantic, superstitious aunties who in their whole life had never ever called me before. They began to instruct me to observe precautions embedded in our ancient culture and told me not do certain things. It was clear that if their precautions weren’t heeded following and during a solar or lunar eclipse, my child and I would be harmed. There was no scientific proof, of course! Here are some of the things they demanded of me during an eclipse:

Do not cross your feet

Sit in one position

Do not use scissors, knife or blade

Do not stitch

Do not drink water

Do not let any rays fall on you

Sit in only one room, close the door

Do not watch  television

In short, it was total eclipse of my pregnancy!! Every year, lunar or solar eclipses do happen.  But if you are pregnant, they say it can harm you more than the normal people. I never quite understood whether pregnant women carry any special energy around them. Or do eclipses have special power to judge human beings? Oh she is pregnant I will harm her; oh she is women I will harm her less and this is unborn child I can harm even more.

Only Indian pregnant women will get affected by eclipses and no one else on this planet. I did bow down to the pressure. I did stay home and did exactly what was told to me, though with no personal faith but to please everyone around me. Oh, I did not want anything to go wrong with my unborn baby!

The pregnant women are strictly advised not to venture out during eclipse. It is still believed by lot of people in India that if you do anything prescribed above, your baby might become handicapped or disabled and the probability of miscarriage is increased. If you stitch cloth your child may have cleft lip. It is funny and there is no scientific explanation to all these. And there is no proven fact that it can actually cause harm. However, looking at a solar eclipse with naked eyes can harm your eyes irrespective of you being pregnant or not pregnant.

For millions of years humans have given birth and been pregnant along with other species during the time when there happened to be an eclipse. It is improbable that an eclipse can cause a direct negative impact by singling out pregnant women. There are many children who are born with a disability and cleft lip in-spite of following all of the “rules”. So, since there is no scientific explanation and eclipses do not have special power to differentiate, between whether you are Indian or not, do not get carried away! I complied with these instructions from my superstitious aunties during my pregnancy to keep everyone happy. The best thing to do? Take medical advice and do not panic.

What about you? Did you receive any advice unique to your culture when you were pregnant?

Or, did you find yourself doing something you didn’t believe in while pregnant just to please others? Let’s hear it! 

This is a an original guest post to World Moms Blog by Vineeta Jain of Kolkata, India. Vineeta is an award winning media professional specializing in radio. And she did not hold any scissors while pregnant during an eclipse! 

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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