First time mother praises home visiting nurses’ support
Jehona Hyseni relied on the nurses for breastfeeding advice and other dilemmas she faced in her journey as a parent
Jehona from Vushtrri, a young mother to a five-month-old child, is welcoming the home-visiting nurses.
Smiles and laughter everywhere between her and nurses Adlije Kurti, Merita Ferati and Laura Fejza.
"These nurses saved both my son and me!", says Jehona smiling as she shares her story of becoming a new mother in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and having no experience on how to take care of her child.
"I had a lot of fears and doubts. Even when my stomach would hurt a bit, maybe just from food, I was afraid that something was happening to the child", says Jehona. However, she says that she got answers to all her questions from the home-visiting nurses.
She says that she often contacted the nurses by phone, since there was no other option due to the lockdown measures against the spread of COVID-19.
"I contacted them for everything, even for tiny details when I was doubting something, and they calmed me down and told me what to do," says the young mother.
She emphasizes that the greatest help was provided during the process of breastfeeding.
Jehona is a primary school teacher in in the village of Pestova in Vushtrri, where she lives with her family. One of the dilemmas she had was whether she should breastfeed the baby or not.
"My friends and colleagues told me that it would be difficult because I was working, and that it would be better to get the baby used to formula feeding", says the young mother. "On the other hand, I did not have a lot of milk, and I was afraid that my baby would be left hungry", she continues.
However, according to her, the professional advice of nurses helped her overcome all these issues.
"In the beginning, I would keep my son very close to the breast and press the breast so that he could get more milk, but the nurses told me to be as relaxed as possible because that is the only way for the baby to get more milk", tells Jehona. As a mother, she is extremely caring in order for her baby to be healthy, to develop and to reach his full potential. Therefore, she follows with great attention every change in her baby. Jehona says that she noticed that her baby was developing well, after beginning the breastfeeding. In her view, she explains that the baby slept better and was calmer but also grew enormously.
Jehona says that all the professional advice received has helped her a lot with breastfeeding and that she has noticed the benefits of breastfeeding in her baby as well.
"When I last took the boy to the pediatrician, the doctor was telling me ‘I am glad that you are breastfeeding your son’, I was really surprised and asked him how he knew about it.
The doctor explained to me that babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea.
I was very impressed and was happy that I had decided to breastfeed my son", she continues. Jehona who is a working mum told us that she made all the effort to breastfeed her son even during lunch breaks since her workplace has a short distance from her home. “Sometimes my husband or his mother would bring my son during lunch breaks, they are very supportive in this regard”, she tells us.
Jehona is also vaccinated against COVID-19 and says that she was convinced to get the vaccination with the support of the home visiting nurses. "They explained me that it is the best form of protection – and I decided to listen to them. I don’t regret it. I am in very good health", says Jehona.
According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2020, only 32% of infants are fed with breastmilk within the first hour after birth, only 29% of children under the age of 6 months are exclusively breastfed, while 44% of children at the age of 1 are breastfed.
Merita Ferati is one of the nurses who worked closely with Jehona, and she says that Jehona was reluctant to get vaccinated in the beginning, due to the fact that she was breastfeeding her son.
"When we first met her, she was pregnant. We identified her during the home visits and gave her a lot of advice. We have managed to build mutual trust, and whatever we advise her, she takes it into consideration. We got familiar not only with her but also with her husband, who sometimes would come by car and pick us up to help Jehona. We are very satisfied with what we have achieved here", says nurse Merita.
The home-visiting program in Kosovo started in 2014 with the support of the Government of Luxembourg. Currently this program is integrated within the system of Primary Health Care and is currently implemented in 34 municipalities. The home-visiting program is aimed at improving access to Primary Health Care services for pregnant women, children under the age of three and their parents, and especially the most vulnerable families. The objectives of the program are: assessment of the mothers and children’s health and well-being, assessment of the family’s health and nutritional needs, education of families, as well as referral and coordination with various community support schemes.
With the financial support of the Government of Luxembourg and the support of the UNICEF Office in Kosovo, the Home Visiting program has been expanded to 34 municipalities. More than 67,000 children and 15,000 pregnant women have been visited and 1,960 health professionals have been trained through this program to-date.