Home Visit for a Low Birthweight Baby
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Today, I visited a 7-day-old baby. The mother, Suhaibah is young – only 19. She got married to a 25-year-old man named Mahdim a year ago. I first met Suhaibah when I visited the home of another woman who lived near her. I saw Suhaibah with her mother and grandmother in front of their house and I decided to stop by just to say hello.
I introduced myself and chatted with them for a while. Eventually it came out that Suhaibah was four months pregnant. I did not want to lose that great opportunity so I offered her to check her pregnancy right then and there. After I examined her, I told the women that everything looked fine. They were happy. I spent almost an hour at their house. I explained about the importance of prenatal care, and gave them some do's and don'ts for a pregnant woman and her family. I asked Suhaibah to come to my house the next month to have another check-up.
Actually, I was surprised when I found out Suhaibah was only 19. That's too young to be a mother, and I knew I should pay special attention to her pregnancy. Fortunately, she did come to my house the next month, and I checked her pregnancy regularly up to the day she gave birth.
I was there to help when Suhaibah had her baby. I was attending my friend's wedding party in the district capital, but I knew Suhaibah was due to go into labor, so I told her husband to call me as soon as Suhaibah started showing labor signs. I was right. I was eating the wedding meal when the husband called me. I didn't finish my food. I rushed home on my motorcycle to get my midwife kit and then I rushed to Suhaibah's house.
When I arrived, Suhaibah was ready to give birth. But when the baby born, he didn't cry and didn't breathe. The family thought the tiny baby was dead because he didn't breathe. I resuscitated him and, thank God, he then cried and started breathing. I took him immediately to the district hospital to get newborn intensive care, to save his life. The baby weighed just 4.2 pounds and he needed intensive care because he had difficulty breathing. He was in the hospital for only 6 days. The doctors said that he was better and all he needed was to be with his mother, so that he could get enough breast milk from his mother.
I visit Suhaibah and the little boy almost every day. I have immunized him and I keep a close watch on his health. He is now 20 days old and weighs 5.5 pounds. He is healthy. He gets as much breast milk as he needs. I have shown Suhaibah how to do "kangaroo mother care" to keep him warm next to her skin.
The baby does not have a name yet. It is local custom to not name a baby until he is 40 days old. Also, both the baby and mother are not supposed to leave the house for the first 40 days after the birth. They are restricted to the bedroom. But Suhaibah is lucky because her husband and his family built a good new room for them. It's a simple room made out of bamboo, but it's large enough and it has good ventilation. There is also a small area with a cement floor for bathing. There's no wall or curtain, but they have a bucket with water and soap.