Pregnancy is considered to be the most beautiful and magical time in any woman’s life, when she starts creating another human inside her. But this is the time that the woman needs to take most care of herself, which includes consumption of apt diet, vitamins & minerals, nutritional supplements and also rest. But what about those living in the slums? Those who barely make two ends meet by earning daily ages, which is still insufficient to feed their stomachs just twice a day? Those who cannot afford to take care of themselves?
Mumbai Smiles has partnered with another NGO, ARMMAN’s mMitra program and runs its own Maternal and Child Health MCH program that works for healthcare of pregnant and nursing women in the slum communities of Mumbai city. From the second month of pregnancy to the time the infant turns a year old, the project ensures that regular voice calling messages are customized and provided to the mothers to inform them of the important medication, nutrition and vaccinations that should be taken and various awareness sessions and one-on-one interactions are carried out to inform them about the government schemes that can help them financially to avail the necessary services in nearest hospitals and dispensaries as well.
As part of the MCH program, we also hold periodical immunization and health camps that provide free supplements and vaccinations to the pregnant and nursing mothers. And during the first week of August, which is considered as World Breastfeeding Day, we held the second immunization camp for the women of the slums in Kanjurmarg area (in the north of Mumbai) who are pregnant and/or nursing new born babies to provide the mothers and babies with the required vaccinations. At this camp, a general physical examination was carried out for each beneficiary, including checking their Haemoglobin levels, Blood Pressure and weight and their medical history was also recorded. And then, as per the stage of pregnancy or nursing, medicines and vaccinations were provided to them.
The camp ended with distribution of fruits for each of them but before that the team of doctors conducted an interactive awareness session for the mothers to inform them about the important of breastfeeding as it strengthens the growth of infant, boosts their immunity and provides the necessary nutrition for the babies. The talk also focused on how to store breast milk for those who have to work right after delivery (because many of the women cannot afford to take extended leave as they have to support their families financially) for the baby as breast milk is the only source of nutrition for the babies at least for the first six months and that simply cannot be neglected at all, otherwise it can increase the risk of ear infections, asthma and other illnesses for the baby.
The camp was received very positively by the citizens of the area, men and women alike and the response was very encouraging for the team of doctors and for us as well. We want to thank Dr. Arun Rawate and his team of doctors, including medial assistant, Pradnya Ketkar, for supporting us in this camp medically and to the community authorities for their logistical support.