UNICEF-supported volunteers support new mothers and assist them to breastfeed their newborns.

“We first meet mothers right after delivery, to help them initiate breastfeeding during the first hour of the baby’s life,” explains Riham.

UNICEF
young girl talking to a woman holding a baby
UNICEF/Syria2019/Abdulaziz Aldroubi

07 August 2019

Little Yasmine arrived in our world just two hours ago. Not only was her mother, Amina, waiting for her, but also Riham, a 20-year-old UNICEF-supported volunteer whose job is to support new mothers and assist them to breastfeed their newborns.

“I didn’t know that each breastfeeding session should last no less than 10 to 15 minutes for breastmilk to reach its most nutritious form,” says Amina after she breastfed her baby for the first time, “I also learned that feeding newborns sugar solutions is very harmful,” she adds.

As the world celebrates Breastfeeding Week, Riham and 24 other young people in Homs continue to provide new mothers with support, advice, and encouragement to breastfeed their babies. The volunteers were trained on optimal infant and young child feeding practices and communication skills to help them educate mothers and their nearest family members on the importance of breastfeeding and correct young child feeding practices.

“We first meet mothers right after delivery, to help them initiate breastfeeding during the first hour of the baby’s life,” explains Riham, “then, we maintain frequent contact with them for the following six months to support them in exclusively breastfeeding the infants.”

“We first meet mothers right after delivery, to help them initiate breastfeeding during the first hour of the baby’s life,”

Riham, 20, UNICEF-supported volunteer

The volunteers are part of a bigger team of over 1,800 UNICEF-supported health workers who are reaching caregivers across Syria with free consultations and awareness sessions to guide them on optimal infant and child feeding practices.

Since the beginning of 2019, through more than 850 UNICEF-supported health centres and 50 mobile teams across Syria, UNICEF has reached over 142,400 caregivers, including pregnant and lactating women, with consultations and awareness sessions on recommended infant and young child feeding practices, thanks to generous contributions the Office of U.S Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), the Department for International Development (DFID), the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), Japan, Luxembourg, and the Syrian Humanitarian Fund (SHF).