In an effort to further boost its baby friendly status, the Maternity Ward of the West Demerara Regional Hospital is currently undergoing an infrastructural upgrade.
Earlier this year Minister within the Health Ministry, Dr Bheri Ramsaran had revealed that more than $30M was allocated to the Region Three hospital to carry out needful works.
But work on the Maternity Ward, according to Regional Health Officer, Dr Ravi Persaud, is being undertaken to ensure that the Region Three Hospital remains at the forefront of baby friendly pre-eminence.
It is now close to a decade that the hospital had attained the baby friendly title, representing the first local health facility to be so classified.
The baby friendly status, according to the doctor, is hinged on the promotion of breast milk as the only source of food for babies for at least the first six months of life. In addition, this status warrants that mothers start the process of breastfeeding within half an hour after birth.
Promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding have been the basis on which the West Demerara Hospital has been operating and this according to Dr Persaud, could not have been completely possible without the input of specialist counsellors.
Ms Rani Ramkissoon was on hand Sunday to highlight the important 10 steps that must be adhered to if a hospital is to be recognised as a baby friendly facility. She took up her appointment at the hospital some two years ago and had informed this newspaper that counselling mothers about the importance of breastfeeding is a Monday through Friday undertaking.
In excess of 200 mothers, this newspaper understands, are counselled regularly. According to Dr Persaud, given the importance of the 10 baby-friendly steps “we are sticking very close to them because we want to continue to maintain our status. If we don’t follow the steps the baby friendly status will be taken from us.”
In addition to ensuring that the environment in which mothers are attended to is of an acceptable condition, the RHO disclosed that counselling is also viewed as considerably important.
And this process, he said, is carried out on both a one-on-one basis as well as through general lectures in the postnatal ward.
“Our counselling in the postnatal ward is an everyday programme, so it is always that we keep counselling the mothers about breastfeeding…We have been advocating that fathers support mothers too.”
Regional Hospital’s Counsellor, Ms Ramkissoon, had revealed that a session is never completed unless she is able to exhort the importance of breastfeeding as well as the need for mothers to be supported by family members. It is her conviction that once mothers are in the company of their husbands or any other member of their family, they too are exposed to the facts about breast milk which not only have the potential of fully nourishing a baby for the first six months of its life, but it also can help to boost the baby’s intelligence quotient.
It was revealed to this newspaper that as soon as a pregnant woman starts to visit the clinic at the West Demerara Hospital she can be sure to have an encounter with Ms Ramkissoon.
But according to the counsellor, although the need to breast feed babies is continually highlighted, there is still the challenge of dealing with some mothers and even their relatives who cannot comprehend the fact that breast is best and it can work effectively alone.
There is also the incidence of mothers with inverted nipples. Ramkissoon had told this newspaper too that mothers are not always willing to have that problem resolved in order to breast feed.
However, with the requisite literature, Ms Ramkissoon claims that she has been able to get through to her clients and believes that the intended objective is usually achieved.
National breastfeeding week was launched on Sunday under the theme “Just 10 Steps, the baby friendly way.”
Activities will be held countrywide by various health facilities as part of the week of observances.
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