Calmness and love for displaced breast feeding mothers in the new temporary shelter
In an ordinary classroom of Tbilisi School # 51 five mothers are holding their infants and telling each other stories of their survival. Only two of them are breast-feeding. Having suffered a stress of the conflict in and around South Ossetia, Georgia, many of the displaced mothers have lost their breast milk.
“After we have fled from the blazing and bombing city of Gori, where I gave birth to Roland, my health situation extremely worsened”, says Rusudan Buchukuri 21. She and her child were having a medical treatment in the Gori hospital, when the conflict erupted. “Because of being on a drip, doctor told us that it would be rather risky to flee. So we stayed in Gori until it was fully invaded by Russians and Georgian army had to drive back”.
Having arrived in Tbilisi Gudushauri hospital, Rusudan soon had to leave again. This time for a temporary shelter, as the hospital was full of wounded people and there was no place for stationary treatment. “In the first days of being here in Tbilisi we did not have relevant medicine, enough food and drinking water. Now I realize that it is a miracle that we managed to survive”, says mother of a three weeks infant.
Out of more then 100 thousand IDPs, about 10 percents are mothers like Rusudan. Most of them still do not have proper conditions. However, 20 of them, including Rusudan Buchukuri turned out to be lucky as they joined the shelter for breastfeeding mothers set up by the Ministry of Educations and Science with the support of UNICEF.
In the framework of the programme two class rooms in the Tbilisi School # 51 were efficiently equipped with furniture and the essential inventory for newly delivered mothers and their babies including blankets, plastic square basins, beds for babies, shampoo, towels for babies, bedding, water plastic caps, plastic buckets, thermos for hot water, iron, and baby clothes.
“As soon we learnt about the programme we decided to join”, says Dragoslav Popovich, from the UNICEF Regional Office. “It is crucial not only to give all the necessary support to those mothers, but to explain the importance of breast feeding, calmness and love for their children.”
Iashvili Child Clinic Director, Professor Keti Nemsadze, who was invited by UNICEF to consult those mothers, says that most of them do not know how to behave in such post-trauma period. “I mean physiological trauma. During the war, most of them have forgotten their main duty – child care. That’s why they lack breast milk now. However, if they start feeding their infants no matter is there enough of it in their breast or not and do not panic, needed amount of milk will be restored”, explains Keti in presence of the mothers.
Soon after these words several mothers started breast feeding and continued listening doctor Keti, who now was speaking about child rearing. “Those whose children are up to 6 months can start telling small stories about pictures or brochures they see here in the class room”, says Keti Nemsadze and takes one of the children on her knees. “It is important to keep child closer, so that he or she feels mother’s warmth. If you do so, for the entire life reading will be associated with happiness for them”.
According to Salome Chichinadze from the Child Care Department of the Ministry of Education and Science, most of those women need physiological support. “Some of them have seen brutal killings on their way to Tbilisi and even lost nearest relatives in the conflict. Thus it is not an easy task to distract their thoughts from bad things.”
Nevertheless, after doctors’ instructions, new shelter and schedule, time for upset is quite short. After feeding infants mothers have to move to the dining room and have their meal. While dining, mothers exchange their ideas about new experience.
“I cannot believe this is true, says Lia Kazarashvili aged 26, holding her one month old Mariam and breast feeding. “If not this programme, I was already going to start artificial feeding for Mariam, as I was hopeless about my breast milk. But doctor Keti explained me how to restore milk. She also told me that I should think about nice things when feeding the child - about her happy future, joyful life and even about her beautiful children (Lia laughs). I don’t know how, but this method really helps. After such feeding, Mariam is on a good mood and sleeps well”.