Healthy mothers, healthy babies

Thursday, August 1, through Wednesday, August 7, is World Breastfeeding Week!

Today, read the story of Kanhchara -- a young, first-time mother in Cambodia who has learned to better care for herself and for her new baby with proper nutrition and vaccinations.

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Twenty-three-year-old Kanhchara is excited to be a first-time mother, but she worries about knowing how to take care of her baby.

Morning sickness was the first sign that she was pregnant. Kanhchara went quickly to the Sanlung health center to get a pregnancy test and meet the health staff.

“I was so happy to know that I am pregnant,” Kanhchara says.

Having experienced a miscarriage during her first pregnancy, Kanhchara is more careful this time to take care of herself.

“I slipped on the floor, and I miscarried her,” Kanhchara says. “I learned the signs of danger to watch for while pregnant, such as swelling and abdomen ache,” she continues.

Besides this, Kanhchara’s neighbor -- Neang Chou, a village health volunteer -- has looked out for Kanhchara during her pregnancy.

“She comes to visit and also to remind me to get health check-ups and take iron pills regularly,” Kanhchara says.

Kanhchara has learned that delivering a baby at home without proper caregivers would be dangerous.

“[Traditional caregivers] don’t have clean equipment or the professional skills to deliver babies. I don’t use their services,” Kanhchara says.

Manara So was born weighing about 5.5 pounds; now, at two months, he weighs about 11 pounds. Kanhchara used the services at Sanlong health center.

Through the village health group, World Vision has developed the capacity for raising awareness among pregnant women of antenatal and postnatal care, taking vitamin A and iron supplements, HIV and AIDS, and proper hygiene and sanitation.

The community’s goal is to decrease the rates of under-5 mortality from 54 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010; stunting from 40 percent; wasting from 11 percent; and underweight from 28 percent in 2010. World Vision also works closely with village health groups and health center staff to ensure that babies get breast milk and vaccinations, and nutritious food after they are 6 months old.

Hearing Manara’s cries coming from a nylon hammock, Kanhchara knows that her baby is hungry. She hurries to cuddle him and feed him breast milk quickly. But it is hard to feed him because the milk flows out nonstop from her left breast.

“I was afraid that he would get choked by the milk,” says Kanhchara. Then she changes to feed her baby with the right.

This shows that Kanhchara and Manara are healthy.

“I tried to eat vegetable soup and many other nutritious foods as much as possible,” Kanhchara says with a smile.

Kanhchara is different from previous mothers who hid their children from vaccinations. Kanhchara knows that the injection hurts her baby for a minute, but that it protects him from many kinds of diseases.

“I have to follow the vaccination schedule. It protects my son from tetanus, polio, hepatitis B, measles, and other diseases,” Kanhchara says.

Sanlong health center was built in 2011. Before its construction, villagers from six villages of the Sanlong community had to use the services of health centers of neighboring community such as Vihear Sour health center or Ta Meak district federal hospital, which are nearly seven miles from the village.

To improve health services to villagers in Sanlong, World Vision provided material for two waiting beds, two cardiographs, two stethoscopes, and flashlights for deliveries at the Sanlong health center. Additionally, World Vision coordinated to equip the health center staff on birth spacing, delivering babies, vaccinations, and antenatal and postnatal check-up skills.

Through the health center, Kanhchara learned how to breastfeed her baby as well as how to cook nutritious porridge for him.

“I hope my son reaches six months old; then I will cook the nutritious porridge for him,” Kanhchara says with a smile.

Your one-time donation will provide a New Mother and Baby Kit to a mother-to-be, providing the supplies she needs to care for her baby in those first critical weeks of life. Each kit includes items like a bassinet, cloth diapers, a blanket, soap, and a container for clean water. Your gift will also provide infant care training for new mothers.

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