PATNA, 3 August, 2014 - "I am very happy with my child gaining weight but sometimes it its difficult to breast-feed and then I feel I should start bottle-feeding. But then I draw on my strength and continue to exclusively breastfeed my child."
These were the words of Priyanka Kumari, 20, who was visiting the Infant and Young Child feeding (IYCF) counseling centre, at the Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Imamganj, Gaya with her one month old, daughter, Baby.
“We still call her Baby, as the `Naamkaran Sanskar’ (christening ceremony), is yet to take place, informs Priyanka. during her third visit on 12 July, 2014 to PHC Imamganj, Gaya
Priyanka lives with her in-laws in Kosiyadih village in Dumaria, a neighboring block of Imamganj, Gaya in the state of Bihar.
According to Priyanka, most of the people in her village are engaged in farming for their livelihood. Many women are in `ghoonghat’ (veil) and are restricted from moving out of their house. The nearest school is 4 kilometers away from her village so, most of the girls from her village are illiterate. “I have studied up to 12th grade, informs Priyanka proudly. Her husband is works in a hotel in the nearby block Sherghati, and their average monthly income is around 6,000 rupees.
Priyanka is a home-maker and loves stitching and cooking. “We can’t afford to eat green vegetables or proper food, “she shares. I feel very weak and tired most of the time and more so while breast-feeding my daughter.” she adds
Priyanka’s daughter Baby was born on 13 June, 2014 in Primary Health Centre (PHC), Imamganj weighing just 2 kilograms below the normal weight of a new-born.
When Alka Kumari, the counselor of the IYCF counseling centre, Imamganj went to the general ward, she saw Priyanka struggling to feed her child cow’s milk with the bottle in hand and tears in her eyes.
Alka went to her and asked the reason for not breast-feeding her child, she replied there is milk in her breast but she is unable to release the milk and there is unbearable pain in her breast.
Alka brought the milk expression pump from the kit she received when the IYCF counselling centre was set up on 3rd of June 2014. She helped Priyanka express mill with the support of the pump, and this was then given to the baby.
Alka explained to Priyanka about the correct positioning -- holding the baby while breastfeeding and told her to breastfeed as many times as possible. She suggested to her to revisit the centre after 20 days.
Priyanka re-visited the centre on 6 July, 2014; her child’s weight has grown up to 2 kg 650 grams in just 20 days. She informed she was exclusively breast feeding her child since her visit to the counselling centre. She saw a visible improvement in the child’s health.
Priyanka was however worried that as she lived in joint-family and had to do all household work she couldn’t feed the child on time. Alka then talked to her mother-in law and convinced her about the benefits of breasfeeding to her and she promised to support Priyanka in the house chores so that she could breastfeed the baby comfortably.
Priyanka visited the centre again after 9 days on 12 July, 2014. Her happiness was visible in her bright smile -- her daughter’s weight has grown up to 2 kgs and 750 grams. Now her mother-in law was her supporting her with the work and she could feed her child whenever needed.
Priyanka Kumari was one of the 6,747 parents who have visited the 25 IYCF counseling centers in Gaya since June 2014. IYCF counseling centre is an initiative of the Department of Health, Government of Bihar supported by UNICEF. It has been initiated in 21 blocks of Gaya district of Bihar, district hospital and Medical College on 3 June, 2014.
In a period of less than a month approximately a number of 6,747 parents have been facilitated with counseling on optimal infant and young child feeding practices. Earlier parents used to visit hospitals only for routine immunization. Now they are more concerned about their child health and approximately 100 parents have re-visited the centers to get the counseling and to know about their children’s growth – both weight and height. More than 500 mothers have started breastfeeding within 1 hour of their child birth.