Polite, soft spoken with a pleasant personality to crown it all is the chairperson of the Midwives Association in Rwanda Josephine Murekezi.
Currently working at King Faisal Hospital as a coordinator for the risk management service element, Murekezi is composed regardless of her challenging duties.
With a Masters Degree in Midwifery that she obtained at the University of Aberdeen (Scotland), her education background consists of schools and colleges she attended outside Rwanda.
“After secondary school I joined nursing school and qualified as a registered midwife. I worked for sometime then went back to study some more,” says Murekezi.
On the maternity law in Rwanda, Murekezi thinks women need more time because this is precisely when children need their mothers the most.
“The three months maternal leave was fair although there were complaints of delayed recommence,” Murekezi explains.
She emphasizes that breastfeeding is fundamental and should be taken seriously because the health implications that occur as a result of poor or no breast feeding could be fatal for children. It is imperative that all mothers breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first four months.
Additionally, new mothers have complained about the lack of enough breast milk and that breastfeeding is a painful process that has left them bruised and sore.
Murekezi says motivation to breastfeed is the solution to the above problems. “I think women can make it if they have the motivation to breastfeed.”
“However, we currently have a problem and it is the shortage in midwives who, could help educate these women during their antenatal visits,” Murekezi remarks.
She adds that women in Rwanda breastfeed almost 100 per cent especially in the rural areas.
“The breastfeeding problem is in Kigali because most of the women in the city are working mothers and are pressured to get back to work before the baby is ready to start weaning.
“Children are very sensitive. When they start noticing that the mother is not home recurrently they stop breastfeeding. That is why some mothers wonder why their baby won’t feed,” explains Murekezi.
All sorts of myths about breast feeding have sprung up leaving some Rwandan women confused on what and what not to do. The trained midwife shares her expert advice.
“Breastfeeding does not cause cancer at all. On the contrary, breastfeeding prevents breast cancer. It is better to breastfeed so as to avoid breast cancer.
“Some women are scared to lose their body figures thinking that breastfeeding will make their breasts sag. With the right bra to fit your breast size, you don’t have to worry about sagging breasts,” she says.
“When you are pregnant of course, breasts increase in size so it is crucial that you wear a bra that fits so as to be comfortable,” she adds, “but after delivery, they go back to their normal shape hence allowing you to wear your original bra size.”
“There are also antenatal exercises that can be done to keep a woman fit and help her prepare for child labour. Exercises even after delivery can also be done to help women get back into shape.”
As a woman with so much work on her hands, Murekezi’s schedule seems pretty hectic. One cannot help but wonder how she juggles it all.
She says: “I have a timetable and I make it a point to do things at the exact hour I was meant to do them. I also have to take other people’s time and plans into consideration.
“Like when we go for meetings, we plan ahead because we have action plans. We know that at such a time we have this or that and, in the next hour we have that. So, that is how I manage to keep my work going though on some occasions I use my extra time as well,” Murekezi states.