Shared Moments

28.03.2016 14:21


“Whatever happiness I have experienced until now, nothing can compare to the pleasure of breastfeeding my daughter. I hug her, I give her my most valuable and I feel we are a whole. All that is possible, because of the Centre for Maternal and Children’s Health in Shumen supported by UNICEF“. 

Preparing for motherhood

Elena Tsaneva is preparing for the vocation of a mother, while she is taking care of the life, growing inside of her. She learned from the hours spent in the internet that breastfeeding is a natural continuation of giving birth and that second to the umbilical cord, the breast provides the baby with the best food. Naturally, the “white blood“, as they call mother’s milk, is an integral part, not only because of the living human cells and nourishing enzymes it contains, but because through it the mother passes her energy and love to her child. That’s why she dreams of breastfeeding”. I spent the last three months of my pregnancy in the hospital. It was there I met Gyonyul Mehmed, a consultant on breastfeeding in the Center for Maternal and Children’s Health in Shumen, a kind and warmhearted woman, an incredible optimist. She offered me her help after I would give birth. Back then I didn’t take into account how important that meeting would be to me”.

The delivery

Elena gave birth under full anaesthesia. Later she found out by the doctors that her daughter was late for her first cry, that she had jaundice and with her 2 400 grams she was just above the limit to enter the statistics for prematurely born. “For several years I’ve been trying to get pregnant, Nadezhda is long awaited child. The doctors’ words stressed me, I had seen her for a short while, when I woke up from the anaesthesia. I was eager to take her in my arms. They gave her to me on the third day, so wonderful, yet so small. They consoled me, that there was no need of an incubator and an antibiotic treatment and that she would catch up with her weight. Yet every time they put her on my chest, I couldn’t breastfeed her, although she had a sucking reflex. She was languid, flaccid and she slept most of the time. Gyonyul appeared at the right moment. We talked that breastfeeding has crucial role in overcoming the jaundice and she promised to help me“.

The priceless support

Following her guidance, Elena managed to breastfeed her baby. “We started with five grams per feed. Quite insufficient, but it was a small victory and I had high hopes that my child would not receive just adapted milk. On our way out of the hospital, Gyonyul gave me the contact of another nurse in the center – Stefka Assenova, who would attend my home when needed. I contacted her a few days after I got released from the hospital, because my daughter still had no breastfeeding tone and she would fall asleep on my chest. I was worried how much of my milk she consumed and I relied completely on the support milk“.

 © UNICEF Bulgaria/2014/Vasil Kopchev

Tips for mothers

Stefka turned out to be a valuable advisor to the worried mom. One of the things Elena learned first was that she must forget about the clock and breastfeed her child when asked, because that way, besides food, she would receive consolation and emotional support, especially needed during the first months.
“She also told me time was needed, that things happen hard, because Nadezhda was still small, she insisted I be braver, more insistent when I wake her up. She showed me everything related to bathing, greasy hair, cleaning the navel and dressing up. Her presence at home consoled me and my breastmilk flowed more. We made some measurements with electronic balance, it turned out my daughter took 50 to 70 grams of nourishment from me. In the end of the month the scales showed she put on 800 grams. That was an accomplishment! Day after day things worked themselves out, her jaundice diminished, I became more independent in my cares for her. I achieved all that with the help of Stefka. I no longer phone her every second day, but I kept the tradition with the scales at the end of each week for my own consolation.

Thanks to the people in the Center for Maternal and Children’s Health I live my dream every day – to breastfeed my daughter.

* Based on a true story from the practice of the patronage nurses in the Center for Maternal and Children’s Health, but the images used have no direct connection to the families mentioned in the text.

What is the Center for Maternal and Children’s Health?

UNICEF’s activity is grounded on the understanding of the early child development as crucial period with influence on health, education and a person’s professional realization in life. The contemporary scientific evidence shows that the investments in programs for support of parents during those critical years after giving birth when the base of the person’s development and well-being is set, contribute to the formation of a healthy and prosperous generation.

In the beginning of  2013, UNICEF Bulgaria in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the Agency for Social Support and the Professional Organization of Nurses and Obstetricians, developed a model for a Center for Maternal and и Children’s  Health. The methods of the Center’s activity has been approved by the Ministry of Health. With their activities the Centers supplement and extend the work of the general practitioners and pediatricians in the direction of consulting, informing and educating parents, as well as contributing to the early identification of risk factors to the well-being of children and early intervention for their surmount.

The Centers provide future parents and families with children up to 3 years old with home visits with the goal of providing support for ensuring the most beneficial conditions for the development of children. Currently, the project is fulfilled on the territory of two pioneer regions in the country – Shumen and Sliven.

More information about UNICEF in support of the early child development you may find here

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