Initiative for Mother Milk Awareness for Newborns (IMMAN)
The mother milk is the best milk. No milk, whatsoever, can match mother`s milk. Breast feeding is best for the baby, is best for the mother too and is best for the community as a whole. Yet there are less than optimal mothers who exclusively breast feed. Breast feeding is common in Pakistan, but exclusive breast feeding is very exceptional.
In Multan, Pakistan, we trained hundreds of health care providers, including OBS/GYN’s, pediatricians, nurses, and paramedics to improve breastfeeding. But we could not improve the breastfeeding rates in mothers. The healthcare providers are usually very busy and can’t spend an adequate to teach or train mothers about breast-feeding.
“How to improve the exclusive breast feeding for the newborns” was the question in our minds and we came with a novel intervention-IMMAN- that proved to be a success.
The Helping Hands Foundation wants to improve the economic plight of the family, optimize maternal health and decrease child mortality & morbidity through maternal training & motivation about breastfeeding.
Many studies have shown that the best time to educate mothers about breastfeeding is before the baby is born. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, this does not happen. The mothers are completely ignorant about the value and techniques of breastfeeding at the time of delivery. Mothers who deliver by caesarean section are at particular risk as the gynecologists do not teach or advise them about breastfeeding, instead they advise formula milk and keep the baby separated from mothers after operation.
Our goal is to have mothers be better prepared and committed to breastfeeding prior to birth. We have focused to train mothers during pregnancy i.e. before delivery to equip her to breastfeed her baby in all situations. We also look forward to improved communication between mothers and pediatricians about breastfeeding and other health issues.
Strategy: (Two Step Program)
To overcome this problem, we have designed a two-step program
Initially, we selected the leading OBS/GYN’s of Multan to attend a luncheon about the benefits of breastfeeding and IMMAN program. Here, we advocated for breastfeeding in a 30-minute presentation. It included the topics
The OB/GYN’s welcomed the information and plans for the future very warmly. To help them with the task of sending their patients to our mother-education sessions we provided them with several copies of coupons for the mothers to attend the breastfeeding class. These coupons had the information about venue, date & time of the seminar. The counter foil of the coupon had to be filled out by the gynecologist with the contact information of the expectant mother. We requested that in each IMMAN seminar only those mothers be sent who are expected to deliver in the next couple of months.
We invited mothers for the breast-feeding seminars by advertising through print and electronic media also.
Another objective of IMMAN was to introduce mothers to pediatricians prior to the birth of their baby. We hoped that this interaction will improve their post-partum care and establish a relationship that is supportive of breastfeeding.
The following topics are covered for the IMMAN seminar for mothers;
The obstetricians were involved in this initiative. They referred the expectant mothers on a specific day where pediatricians gave 6 lectures to motivate the need for breastfeeding, the anatomy & physiology of lactation, correct method of latching and attachment were taught. There was a special talk on how to exclusively breastfeed after C-section delivery.
We conduct these seminars every month. The program has been applauded by the public, mothers and gynecologists, alike.
IMMAN in world press:
The program was well applauded by the American academy of Pediatrics- Section on breast-feeding. The full-page report was published in their newsletter. This can be seen on the following link http://www.aap.org/breastfeeding/files/pdf/winter09newsletter.pdf. It is appended with the report.