A baby-friendly initiative expands to every corner of Turkmenistan
© UNICEF Turkmenistan
This morning Sapargul Berdyeva, 32, safely delivered her third child. Weak and exhausted from the labour, her bright eyes betrayed her happiness better than words.
Sapargul cuddles and feeds her newborn son. The infant too, seems content cosying up to his mother, suckling as much breastmilk as he can. Sapargulhas named her newbornJanguly, after her father-in-law as is common in traditional Turkmen families.
Little Janguly is luckier than his older siblings because he was born in a baby friendly environment. Three years ago Magtymgulyetrap hospital of Balkan velayatwas recognized as a baby-friendly hospital. A baby-friendly hospital supports breastfeeding by encouraging every mother to breastfeed. Also, families are counseled to support mothers to enable them to sustain the practice to ensure that every child gets the best start in life.
According to Ms. Annaeva, a midwife with 20 years experience, the hospital has undergone tremendous change since it became baby-friendly. This has also made anenormous impact on the local community and also the medical staff working at the MCH facility.
“The concept of baby-friendly hospital does not require huge infrastructure. The success of this initiative depends on the commitment of the medical staff, their patience and understanding of numerous benefits of breastfeeding that a baby-friendly environment can offer to the community –reduction of diarrhea and ARI cases, for example”, she explains.
With UNICEF support, the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative has been expanded throughout Turkmenistan. The Government of Turkmenistan is committed to ensure that all national MCH facilities are certified as baby friendly. For this commitment to be realised, UNICEF has supported the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry in strengthening the capacity of medical specialists at all levels.
Joint efforts of the Government of Turkmenistan and UNICEF demonstrate that being baby-friendly helps. To date, 94% of all MCH facilities have been certified as baby-friendly. Ms.Annaeva recalls, “Age-old guidelines that called for separation of mother and child, late and time-bound breastfeeding, early introduction of breastmilk substitutes, and adding glucose solution to a baby’s diet contradict natural conditions of child rearing.”
Maternity care personnel of Magtymgulyetrap hospital are enthusiastic about having newborns in their MCH facility and strive to make this short but essential stay in the hospital friendly for infants and their mothers. During a three-day period, young mothers will be exposed to breastfeeding and care-giving skills that will empower them to handle responsibilities and enjoy being a mother.
“Doctors have told me that early and exclusive breastfeeding has multiple benefits for my son. It will make him healthy and protect from infections. He will feel loved and cared for. It was also interesting for me to know that early breastfeeding helps my body to adjust and recover after delivery”, says a beaming Sapargul.
As if on cue, her infant starts crying. It is time for another feed!