How to encourage and support breastfeeding amid pandemic

Adani Foundation carries on campaign against malnutrition in Narmada district of Gujarat

Ankita Sharma | August 5, 2020


#breastfeeding   #nutrition   #healthcare   #coronavirus   #Covid-19   #Adani Foundation  
A lactating mother feeding her child with right hold technique and safety measures (Photo: Narmada SuPoshan team)
A lactating mother feeding her child with right hold technique and safety measures (Photo: Narmada SuPoshan team)

The most joyous moment of a woman’s life is to breastfeed her baby for the first time. Breast milk is the foundation to build a strong bonding between mother and child and must not be missed by any newborn in its nutrition uptake. The World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraging people to “support mothers to breastfeed anytime, anywhere,” as we all have a role to play in making our communities more breastfeeding-friendly. Breastfeeding provides the optimal nutrition to the child.

Infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices are a set of well-known, common and scientific recommendations for appropriate feeding of newborn and the children under the age of 2 years. Improvement in the IYCF indicators in the country will be recognized as one of the most effective interventions for child survival, particularly address to morbidity and mortality.

Adani Foundation is implementing SuPoshan Project in Narmada district by focusing on the improvement of IYCF indicators to fight against malnutrition. A baseline survey of the project, conducted by the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar (IIPHG), showed that a large proportion of women do the best IYCF practices regarding early initiation of breastfeeding. As many as 82% of women are practising this in Narmada under the proper guidance of government community health workers and SuPoshan Sanginis, affiliates of this project. The SuPoshan Sangini conducts Individual counseling by making them watch a ‘Spoken Health ‘tutorial video via tablets regarding good latching and cross-cradle holding technique to the lactating mothers.

During the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, every mother is concerned about the spreading of virus and regarding the health of her baby, although the effects of the virus are not selectively severe on pregnant and lactating mothers or newborns as per the latest data available.

After listening the news on TV and reading the local newspaper regarding the fast spread of the coronavirus, Harilaben of Gadit village in Nandod block of Narmada who was in her last trimester was worried about the delivery of her baby. She was worried about how to get to the hospital as the nation-wide lockdown was announced. She consulted Rekhaben, a Suposhan Sangini, and shared her concern. Rekhaben told her not to worry and she can go for institutional delivery at the nearest Primary Health Centre, where she would get the proper medical facilities with all proper safety precautions. Harilaben and her husband decided to go for an institutional delivery, following the Sangini’s advice.

Sangini Rekhaben also counseled them regarding early initiation of breastfeeding, within one hour of child’s birth, and also to give colostrum feeding to the newborn as it is the best source of nutrition for brain development and have many antibodies to fight against any infection.

In a few days when Harilaben came back to home after delivery, Rekhaben, concerned about the health of the mother as well as the baby, visited her. She asked about the baby’s weight, which unfortunately was only 2.4 kg. Rekhaben consoled Harilaben and explained her proper latching and holding technique, and to maintain personal hygiene while feeding the child, also to feed the child during day and night so that the child can get the adequate amount of mother’s milk in whole day.

Every minute detail was explained with the help of video tutorials: for example, taking nutritious food and drinking one glass of lukewarm water before feeding the child. Rekhaben carried on regular counseling for three to five days by constantly visiting Harila’s home – she also maintained social distance and wore a mask.

All such efforts of Sangini and the support Harilaben got from her family for the optimum care of her baby and by practising the best of IYCF knowledge, the baby’s weight went up to 4.1 kg within a month. Today, Harilaben and her family are happy with the support and encouragement given by Sangini Rekhaben during the crucial time.

Our SuPoshan Sanginis are the main heroes at work in far-flung villages. Even a pandemic situation did not deter the SuPoshan team from reaching out to young mothers and providing them proper guidance to ensure a healthy and bright future for their children.

Ankita Sharma holds MSc in Public Health and Nutrition, and has been working with Adani Foundation under Project Suposhan in Narmada district.
 

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