The time is about 11am. It is a Monday morning. Clad in a black sleeveless blouse and flowered pants, Dorah Mwima Barrak, Miss Uganda 2008/2009 comes rushing down the stairs of her house to meet me in the living room and sincerely apologises for keeping me waiting.
“I am so sorry. I always do general house cleaning on Mondays, so, I was trying to complete every chore before coming for the meeting,” she says.
Her place of residence is Bukoto, a city suburb. Here she lives with her husband, Nader Barrak. The couple have three children together. The girl will be making three years in June while the twins, a boy and girl, are ten months old.
Mwima also has a son, from a previous relationship. He will be making eight years in April, this year.
The living room, with dining table adjacent to it, is neatly organised with additions of a movie and bookshelf. The walls are beautifully decorated with family pictures and art pieces.
Baby cries can be heard coming from another room.
“Those are the twins. They have woken up. But we can proceed to talk. There is a nanny tending to them,” she says.
The other two children are away at school while her husband travelled out of the country for work.
As Mwima takes a seat in a sofa next to mine, I am intrigued at how petite she is after having four children. The 27-year-old says she currently weighs about 52 kilogrammes.
Natural versus C- section births
Mwima’s first two children were natural births. The twins on the other hand were born via caesarean (C-) section, which involves use of surgery in order to deliver babies.
She had initially wanted to have a natural vaginal birth for the twins as well. However, her doctor recommended that she has C-section after noticing the babies were positioned differently during the time of labour.
“The girl’s hand was positioned right at the entrance of the vagina. So, the doctor said that it would take a bit of time to change and by the time, he would be done, the boy would be tired,” she says, “therefore in order to minimise any complications, he advised I get the surgery done.”
Getting shapely with a box
After the birth of her first two children, Mwima used a technique dubbed the box method as a way of flattening her belly after giving birth. She got the box idea from one of the mothers’ groups on Facebook.
“The process involved getting a cardboard box, cutting and placing it accordingly to the front of my belly. Then, I would tie a lesu (wrapper) around it (the box),” she says.
She started using the method two days after the birth of each child.
“It does not hurt as some people think. I would tie the wrapper loosely during the earlier days after giving birth and then as the weeks progressed, I would make the grip firmer,” she says.
Mwima used the box method after the birth of each child, for a period of about six weeks in each case.
According to Mwima, the cardboard box helps achieve more desirable results.
“I think the problem with using only a lesu is that it is not straight enough and in the long run, it creates folds around one’s belly. That is why I opted for the carton box so as to help me straighten my belly better,” she says.
The waist trainer
Sometimes, she would substitute the box method with a waist trainer.
After the delivery of the twins, her doctor discouraged her from tying her abdomen out of fear of causing injury to the C-section incision. Instead, she was advised to use a C-section belt that fastens and provides support for the abdominal muscles but at same time helps to keep the stiches in place.
“I started using the belt four days after the surgery. This was after the doctor gave me a go-ahead. I would only wear it during my routine walks. Sometimes, I would walk for 15 minutes and on other days, 30 minutes,” she says.
Mwima bought her C-section belt from Friecca pharmacy in Wandegeya, a city suburb. Her waist measurements were first taken as a way of ensuring that she got an appropriate and suitable belt. It cost her Shs80,000. She wore the belt for a period of two months. In addition to this, she would drink a lot of water. Although her belly is not how it used to be before having children, Mwima says at least the flabbiness is gone.
“I probably need to tighten it by doing stomach workouts including sit-ups which I am starting next month,” she says.
On what motivated her to lose the baby weight, Mwima says she is doing this out of self-love. “Having children does not mean you lose yourself. Yes, you gave birth but it is important that you take good care of yourself,” she says.
The experience of raising twins
At one point during the interview, Mwima leads me to another room where we find the nanny playing with the twins. From observation, the boy appears livelier while his sister seems calmer. This was when the mother brought it to my attention they have two different personalities.
“The boy is more playful. His sister is a little quiet,” she says, adding, “And I have learnt to relate with them according to their character and not try to impose one’s personality on another.”
Mwima, however, reveals that raising twins is no walk in the park. She admits it is hectic because they always need to be attended to at the same time. For instance, when they were still breast feeding, Mwima would use a bobby pillow whose design would enable her comfortably place the twins on each breast to feed.
Then, on some occasions, Mwima would express milk into a bottle and hand it over to her husband to feed one of the twins. She would then proceed to breastfeed the other baby.
“This support from spouses is very important. If I did not have it, I would have ended up becoming a walking zombie,” she says.
What you did not know about Dorah Mwima Barrak
She was crowned Miss Uganda 2008/2009 at the age of 18.
She first met her husband in 2010. At the time, she was working as the executive secretary at Darling Hair Extensions while he had just been posted from Lebanon to Uganda to work as the general manager. They were friends first who started dating in 2013. They later married in 2014.
Mwima is the founder of the Dorah Mwima Foundation, a non-profit organisation that addresses maternal and child-related health needs in the community. She is the brains behind the Celebrity for Charity football match often organised to solicit funds for different health causes.
Besides running her organisation, Mwima is also into interior designing and events decoration.