Surviving the odds – the magic of empowering mothers

Born after four boys baby Pooja is special to her mother and family. Born nearly two months premature, the newborn weighed less than 1200 grams and was very weak. Pooja’s mother Lali Devi was disappointed and lost hope on her survival. The doctors and nurses at District Hospital Alwar were however hopeful that with the correct implementation of newly introduced Family Centered Care (FCC) innovation by NIPI New Born project, Pooja will make it to her home healthy and normal.

Family Centered Care (FCC) is an innovation that empowers mothers for newborn rearing practices especially for small and sick newborns. Under this innovation there is a paradigm shift of allowing entry of mothers in select intensive care areas. The capacity building of mothers is undertaken through audio-visual aids employing Adult Learning Principles (ALS) developed by the NIPI Newborn project team in the area of sepsis prevention (Hand Hygiene, Gowning etc.), Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) and Low birth weight (LBW) feeding, positioning, interaction with baby through play and communication for developmental supportive care and teaching of danger signs. Mothers look after their babies under the watchful eyes of trained health providers. This results in empowerment of the mothers in providing effective parenting skills for use at home.

The doctors and nurses counselled Pooja’s mother and grandmother on the key elements of FCC – breastfeeding, Kangaroo Mother Care, hand washing and other hygiene practices and their role play in improving Pooja’s health. Lali was provided training on these practices through audio-visual teaching aides and demos by nurses at the facility. Pooja was tended round the clock by Lali and nurses at DH Alwar, transforming her from a low birth weight fragile pre-term to a healthy and normal 2.2 Kg baby.

Doctors at DH Alwar say that Low birth weight babies till now had a grim chance of survival, however with proper implementation of elements of FCC they have seen miracles happening. Armed with that experience and Lali’s determination the doctors decided to take Baby Pooja on the other side of the fence.

“We are happy that with FCC we are empowering mothers in providing long term optimal care to their newborns. This will go a long way in improving the health of the newborns in the country”, said the doctors at DH Alwar.

Cradling Pooja in her arms and humming a Rajasthani song at her home, Lali says “I was disappointed with the low birth weight of my child and had given up on her survival. However, the doctors counselled me on the importance of breastfeeding, hand washing etc which I followed diligently. The staff at the hospital was helpful and showed me film on these practices and also gave me a demo of those. I am very happy that my daughter has survived the odds.”

Baby Pooja’s survival has become a household story in Ghevar Nayala and surrounding villages in district Alwar. The benefits of Family Centered Care at a medical facility near to them are especially appealing to the villagers who have limited economic means to travel to big cities for medical care.

The Family Centered Care package, developed by NIPI Newborn project and supported by Norway India Partnership Initiative (NIPI), has been well accepted by the doctors and nurses who have a large number of cases every day to look after. Empowering mothers helps in providing long term optimal care to the newborn even after discharge from the hospital maintaining the continuum of care during the newborn period and beyond.

The Newborn Project, supported by NIPI, had initiated five FCCs in October 2015 in the SNCUs of DH Alwar (Rajasthan), Jharsuguda (Odisha), Nalanda (Bihar), Raisen and Hoshangabad (Madhya Pradesh). More than 1800 mothers have been empowered till date to provide optimal care to their newborns.

Click here to know more about Family Centered Care (FCC) and other innovations of NIPI.

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