Tag: children

Worries of a New Mother

Posted by Desita on 12.05.12

After spending 3 days in the hospital, my husband and his parents brought Iqzaf and me home. While on maternity leave, I will live at my in-laws’ house outside of the village.

Having a child is a wonderful thing. I am really enjoying the day-to-day aspects of being a wife and a mother. Iqzaf is growing and is never sick. Perhaps this is one of the benefits of breast milk – it provides so many antibodies that babies need. I’m holding true to my promise to exclusively breastfeed Iqzaf for the first 6 months.

Two weeks after his birth, I found red spots on Iqzaf’s right cheek near his ear. They looked like little strawberries. They gradually started to get bigger. Iqzaf wasn’t fussy and didn’t have a fever. Still, I was worried and took him to see the pediatrician. The doctor told me that Iqzaf had developed a case of Hemanagioma, a benign vascular tumor that usually appears during the first few weeks of life. I consulted three other doctors who all said the same thing. One doctor told me that if two of the spots got bigger, then they should be operated on.

I returned to the first pediatrician. That doctor told me not to worry because Iqzaf’s hemangioma would disappear on its own. I also did my own research online. Some information I uncovered suggested that Iqzaf’s “strawberry hemangioma” generally resolves itself after a few years (typically by the age of 10). Unlike cancerous tumors, hemangioma is not a malignant disease. However, what causes the formation of hemangiomas is still unknown. Knowing more about the condition and these consultations with the doctor put me more at ease.

I will have 3 months of maternity leave. Perhaps I would have returned home to the village sooner had my birth been standard, but the Caesarean section did not allow for that. I hope I will recover quickly and that Iqzaf will stay healthy, so I can return to my work as midwife as soon as possible.

Will I Be Able to Have a Healthy Baby?

Posted by Desita on 12.05.12

I was almost 5 years into my marriage when I got pregnant for the first time. But I only discovered this unintentionally. Over a year ago, in August 2011 – after returning from Jakarta where I was named the best midwife in the country and honored at a ceremony in the presidential palace – I had a miscarriage. At the time, I was just a few weeks pregnant. My doctor treated me told me to rest.

Two months later, I went to Yogyakarta to attend my husband’s graduation ceremony. It was a fun trip. We had 10 days without phone or email. I used the time to enjoy Yogyakarta’s atmosphere. After that, I returned to the village and my work as a midwife. As October arrived, I still hadn’t menstruated, which meant that I was 10 days later than usual. But I was not really thinking about it. "Maybe I will get my period in a few days,” I thought. I didn’t dare to do a pregnancy test because I didn’t want to face another disappointment.

One of my duties that day was to arrange a letter of guarantee for a patient who needed “Jampersal.” Jampersal is a type of health insurance provided by the Indonesian government to aid those who cannot afford it otherwise. This kept me busy until 11 p.m. at night, because I felt very bad for the woman who needed the letter immediately. While doing this, I chatted with the Head Midwife, telling her about my late period. She encouraged me to check immediately to see if I was pregnant. When I got home late that night, I decided to do a pregnancy test … and the result was positive! I cannot express the feelings of sheer joy that were flooding my heart. I tried to wake my husband, but he was too sleepy to register the news. Finally, with these feelings of happiness, I went to sleep.

The next day, I told my husband and my in-laws the good news. They were very happy about having a new member of the family. They liked the idea that the house would soon be filled with activity and the sounds of children. I kept thinking positive thoughts, but in truth I was a little worried.

My husband went with me to be checked by the doctor. The doctor confirmed that I was pregnant, that I had an embryo in my womb. Really, I still could not believe it that there was a new life inside me. I vowed to remain hopeful and stay positive. I began praying for a healthy pregnancy. I was also hopeful that I would be able to continue my work as a midwife, caring for the mothers and babies in my community. I will tell you about this when I continue my story in a few days.

A Very Difficult Time

Posted by Salif Diarra on 11.14.12

This is very hard time of year for the families here. It’s still the rainy season, and that means continued problems with mosquitoes and malaria. Most of the parents here do not have enough money, and the frequency of their children’s illnesses is increasing. There is not enough food, so the children are weak from malnutrition, and that makes them more susceptible to disease. The youngest children are always the most vulnerable. Souleyman and Togotan are the parents of 5 children who have all had episodes of malaria during the past 4 months.  The two youngest children – both under 5 – were the latest victims. It began with fever. They didn’t eat all day, and the smallest one was crying. The mother was worried and didn’t know what to do. The father came in from the field, and when he saw the state of his two children, he brought them immediately to me. I referred them to the health center where they got the treatment they needed to make them better. The treatment took 3 days. The parents are happy now that their children are healthy again.


Making Sure Children Get Vaccinated

Posted by Afia Afroze on 11.12.12

For many years, I have been responsible for organizing immunizations in my village. Government health workers come to the village to vaccinate the children, but it is my job to make sure the mothers know the schedule and bring their children at the correct time. Sometimes parents don’t understand the importance of immunizations for their children, so I have to educate them to get them motivated.  Recently, I was asked to help organize the vaccination clinic in the village adjacent to mine as well. There hasn’t been an active health worker there for the past 8 months, so they asked if I would step in. I am always happy to do whatever I can to help the children here, so of course I said yes. The government health worker came out and gave the children the polio vaccine. All the children under age 5 were there, along with their mothers, so I took the opportunity to counsel them on other health issues, since I had them all in one place together. 


A few days later, when I was back in my village, a mother named Rabeya came to me with her sick daughter Maria. Maria was 15 months old and had a severe cold with constant coughing and sneezing. She was so congested and miserable that she could not eat, and her parents were starting to get very worried. Maria’s father had taken her to the local pharmacy and they sold him 3 types of medicine, but after 4 days of taking the medicine, Maria was no better. A neighbor suggested they bring Maria to me. This family did not know about the services I provide. When I examined Maria I could see she had a mild case of pneumonia. It’s a good thing the parents didn’t wait any longer, or it might have gotten worse and become life-threatening. I gave them Cotrim tablets and explained the correct dosage to give to Maria. I checked back a week later and was delighted to see Maria fully recovered. “I can’t believe the pharmacy doctor gave me 3 types of medicine that didn’t work,” the mother said. “And you gave me one medicine and now my daughter is completely cured. Now she is playing and full of joy.”

Preventing Malaria in the Rainy Season

Posted by Salif Diarra on 11.07.12

The rainy season continues and so do the problems with mosquitoes and malaria. People here plant corn and millet in small fields close to their homes. They use the first harvest from these crops to feed their families while they wait for the major harvest from the larger fields. The problem with this practice is that mosquitoes thrive in the moisture around the crops, and children who are playing close to home get bitten. I have been working to raise awareness of these risks, and little by little some families are moving their crops away from their homes, but it is very hard to change ancestral traditions. A 1-year-old boy named Zoumana recently got severe malaria from mosquito bites at home. He had a frightening and violent reaction to the disease, with a high fever and seizures. His mother had never seen her child in such a state and she panicked. The husband kept his cool and brought the child to me. I referred Zoumana to the health center. He was admitted for three days of treatments. When he returned to the village, I followed up with the family, giving them advice on malaria prevention and infant feeding. I hope they will plant their crops further away from their house next year.  

Changing Attitudes About Family Planning

Posted by Chisomo Boxer on 11.05.12

Since 2009, health workers like me have been engaged in an effort we call “community based maternal and newborn care” with support from Save the Children and our country’s Ministry of Health. Under this program, it is my job to identify pregnant women in my community and make sure each one gets three prenatal care visits and three post-natal visits after her baby is born. Of course our first priority is to help the mother have a healthy pregnancy and a safe childbirth, and then to help her care for her newborn baby. But we also teach new mothers and fathers about family planning and encourage them to use modern methods of contraception to space out their births and have smaller, healthier families. Many of the people here are not well educated so they need our help to understand how family planning works, and to make informed decisions. We use counseling cards with pictures to explain oral contraceptives, male condoms, injectables and other methods.

Recently, 16 women in this village have requested tubal ligation. One of my neighbors, Veronica, is a good example. Veronica is 38 years old. She has given birth nine times and is currently pregnant. She became pregnant when her last baby was 17 months old. After one of our counseling sessions, she told me she wants to have the tubal ligation procedure. “If I keep having babies, I might die,” she said. “I am too old and I have delivered too many children.” Her husband is a prominent member of our community action group, and he wholeheartedly agreed: “We didn’t know any better, and no one gave us advice in the past, so that’s how we got to where we are,” he said. “But now that we know about our options, we would like to consider our family complete!”

Malaria Season Strains Family Resources

Posted by Salif Diarra on 10.31.12

It’s the rainy season now, so we have lots of mosquitoes and many cases of malaria, especially among the small children under age 5. We have made good progress in getting families to sleep under treated bed nets to prevent mosquito bites at night, but still sometimes the children get bitten before they go to bed. In some families, all the children get sick at the same time. This often creates financial problems for the families who do not have much money. For example, Moussa and Sata are the parents of two children who both had malaria last week. Their 4-year-old girl Ramata and their 18-month-old boy Lassina both became feverish, started vomiting and refusing to eat. Their mother brought them to me immediately and I referred them to the health center. The doctor there confirmed the malaria diagnosis and began treating the children. They had to stay in the hospital for three days. This was very expensive for a poor family, but somehow they were able to find the money. The mother is very happy now that her children are healthy again.

Hot Weather Brings Disease

Posted by Afia Afroze on 10.29.12

It’s summer here now and the whole country is very hot. Every day it’s over 100 degrees with high humidity. There are several diseases that tend to affect children more this time of year. On one side of my village people are using water from the canal for their household needs, and the children have been getting water-borne diseases. I am seeing more cases of conjunctivitis, diarrhea, pneumonia, coughs and colds, and stomach problems too. I advise all the mothers – especially the ones with sick babies – to keep their children clean and make sure they drink lots of liquids like safe drinking water, lemonade and green coconut water.


This month I made 24 household visits. I counseled two new mothers about how to care for their newborns. I told them they should be feeding their babies nothing but breast milk for the first 6 months. I also facilitated two courtyard sessions where we brought people together to talk about community health problems and solutions. I was very happy that 27 women and 10 men attended. We talked about how seasonal diseases are increasing as the weather gets hotter. We decided to have an art and writing contest for the children. The goal will be to warn people about the dangers in this hot weather and teach people how to be prepared.


Seven-month-old Tamanna was one of the children I helped this month. Her mother was visiting family in a nearby village and didn’t know what to do when her baby started coughing and breathing rapidly. Tamanna’s grandfather knew about me, and suggested she come see me.  The mother brought Tamanna to my house. I told her Tamanna had a respiratory infection. It was not severe, but it could have turned into pneumonia if it was left untreated. I gave the mother some medicine and advice about how to care for her little girl. They came back to see me a week later and I was very happy to see Tamanna feeling better.

A Tough Time of Year for Children

Posted by Salif Diarra on 3.20.12

We are in the cool season in Mali now. It’s a difficult time for children. A lot of them get sick this time of year. I treated three children for pneumonia last month. Luckily none of the cases were severe, so I was able to provide care here in the village and the parents did not have to take their children to the hospital. I also saw two cases of diarrhea. And three babies were born – two boys and a girl. I visited the homes of all three families to check on the health of the mothers and babies and gave advice about newborn care, breastfeeding and post-natal care for the mothers.  It’s very satisfying to me to see all the mothers and babies are doing well.

Last week, mother named Chita brought her 10-month-old son Fidele to see me. He had a bad cough and he was trembling all over. His parents had not been dressing him warmly enough, and I suspect he also had not been getting proper nutrition. I gave the mother paracetamol – a medicine to reduce pain and fever. I told her she should dress her baby in warm cloths and keep him dry. I also talked with her about ways to ensure Fidele gets better nutrition. I visited the family at home two days later and was happy to see Fidele was back on feet, playing and completely back to normal.

We’re All in the Same Boat When it Comes to Parenting

Posted by Salif Diarra on 3.06.12

This month, it was my turn to be a concerned parent. My son, Adama, is only 3 years old. And at 10 p.m. one night, he started vomiting profusely. Then he had diarrhea. This went on and on until 5 a.m. Adama always insists on sleeping in my bed, so I cared for him as best I could during those frightening hours. My wife and I couldn’t bring him to the local health center immediately, because it isn’t open at night.

The next morning, I went to the village’s communal bank, as I knew I didn’t have enough savings to pay for his treatment. Every month, every head of a family has to put 20 cents per child into the kitty. When in need, a father can take money from the kitty, but he must return the amount he took within the month so that, in case of another emergency, another child can be treated.

And indeed, the treatment was costly – 15 dollars! Adama was tested for malaria and within ten minutes was diagnosed as having a chronic case. The doctor gave him antimalarial drugs, oral rehydration salts and zinc. But it was worth every penny – within 48 hours he was back on his feet, and my energetic, playful son is now completely back to normal.



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