A Better Healthcare for Every Mother and Child
The Association of Independent Midwives, with UNICEF’s support, launched the “Caring for Mothers” Network, aiming to improve mothers and children’s access to healthcare and support.
In September 2022, the Association of Independent Midwives, with UNICEF’s support, launched the “Caring for Mothers” Network, organizing a series of training courses for 250 people - doctors, midwives, nurses in primary care and maternity wards, aiming to improve mothers and children’s access to healthcare and support, including antenatal care, pre-and post-natal education, health literacy, sexual and gender-based violence prevention, breastfeeding support and immunization.
The courses were held by eight specialists - neonatologists, midwives, experts in health literacy, psychology, consultants in breastfeeding, and public health, combating sexual and gender-based violence, which were organized between September 2022 and March 2023, in six cities in Romania – Bucharest, Constanța, Brașov, Vaslui, Suceava, and Iași.
“The modules were very well structured, and I learned many things I already knew how to monitor a pregnancy, but I didn't know how to offer emotional or legal counseling to the mother. Now I have learned more about childbirth, stimulation of lactation, the correct position for breastfeeding, counseling the future mother, and showing her useful exercises during pregnancy,” says Dr. George Bădescu, Family Medicine Resident, who attended the courses organized by the Association of Independent Midwives.
“I will try to share with my colleagues all the new information I learned during the course, and I want to consolidate my knowledge through daily practice at work”.
Through the courses, Dr. Bădescu learned which institutions he could turn to if one of his patients were a victim of physical or emotional abuse or assault. At the same time, he also learned some ways to interview the patient, without putting him or her in an uncomfortable situation, regardless of the age of the patient.
The training was attended by family doctors and pediatricians, but also by nurses, and midwives, who support mothers and children on a regular basis in the medical wards.
“I work in the Intensive Care Unit, and, in most cases, I interact with mothers who have experienced postpartum depression because they have not had an easy pregnancy. I try to communicate with them and teach them what to do, I guide them to a psychologist”, says Mirela Păcălici, a nurse in the Neonatology Department, at Cantacuzino Hospital. ”In the case of refugee mothers, they come alone to the hospital, and they are scared sometimes, especially because of the language barrier, and our interaction is sometimes limited because of this”.
Through these courses, she learned how to communicate better with the patients, and how important it is to convey a sense of calmness and safety to the mothers.
She says the module regarding the breastfeeding protocol was useful for her job, and she has already started to apply the new information at her workplace. “I started to share this information with my colleagues too and I prepared a small course format for them, on Zoom, so that I could teach them what I had learned”.
The trainers noticed a high interest from the participants of the courses in improving their knowledge, with more specialized information. “They have formed a small community, and they want to keep in touch, to share common practices and knowledge”, says Andreea Ola, one of the trainers involved in the project.
One of the main topics discussed with the trainees was how they can act if one of their patients is a victim of gender-based violence and to whom they can report the case.
“Some common mistakes we often make when interacting with a victim of abuse are blaming the victim or placing the responsibility elsewhere,” says Irina Ilisei, a trainer of the project Caring for Mothers.
“We discussed about gender roles, gender inequality, the rights of people working in health, and how health professionals can prevent or address certain situations of abuse or how they can offer support to victims.”
The courses were funded by the Austrian Government, the Republic of Korea, and the United States Government, and the modules were based on the latest and most effective practices in health literacy, antenatal and postnatal education, prevention of gender-based violence, and vaccination for children who live in Romania.