Gramin Vikas Sansthan

If Only I Had Taken Those Pills

Preeti, in village Bedaru (West), gave birth to three children, but only two remain. He eldest is 7 years old; when he was about a year old her second child was born. It died on the third day. Some say the child died of tetanus, but Preeti is not sure. She said she could not breastfeed the child even once. Those days she too believed that one is not supposed to give the child its mother’s milk till three days have passed.

Preeti’s third child is now a year and four months old. Sheila, her VHW, and two other neighborhood women had delivered the child. This child was breastfed within an hour of its birth. The two other women assisting in the delivery told her not to feed the child immediately and wait for three days. But Sheila insisted. Subsequently, the mother produced enough milk and the child grew to be healthy. It had only mother’s milk for six month. Later Preeti introduced other food items like porridge, dal, etc. but the child does not eat much, complains Preeti.

The child has a deformity on its left leg; it has a clubbed foot. Preeti now blames herself for that. She believes because she did not complete the course of 100IFA tablets the child’s foot is deformed. “I just could not digest those pills. But I wish now I had forced myself to have those pills then my boy would have been fine, “she says.

Her boy is otherwise a very fine infant, full of life. Seeing him thus the neighborhood women also now say there is some substance in what Sheila tells them about breastfeeding. One such woman was firm in her belief that she could not lactate ever because when she had her first child there was no milk in her breasts. This time she came into contact with Sheila at Preeti’s place and learnt all about immediate breastfeeding. Even then she was not sure she would lactate. When she had her second child, Sheila was present and helped her breastfeed the child. The lady then gave her child mother’s milk alone for six months.

Now Sheila does not have to do much to convince women in her village. They have learnt to differentiate between scientific knowledge and superstition.