Friday 14 September 2018
Rekha Sahadev Singh- mother of a new born girl child, Girishma is living with her husband and parents-in-law. They are living in extremely impoverished and backward conditions and have no formal education. Her husband is working as a supervisor in a local clothing factory.
It was during the door-to-door visits during Rekha’s pregnancy that Apnalaya met her in 2017. Rekha was only 35 kg and it was abysmally low for a pregnant woman of her age. Apnalaya felt it imperative for Rekha to be immediately registered in a hospital and therefore she was referred to Rajawadi Hospital so that she could undergo regular checkups and sonographies.
Various medicines were prescribed to Rekha to increase her iron intake as she was anemic. She was unable to gain weight initially because of insufficient food intake. In addition to being unaware about the importance of gaining weight during pregnancy, nutritious food items were costly and it was difficult for Rekha to afford them.
October 2017, Rekha gave a premature birth to a baby girl. The baby weighed only 1.5 kg, which was abnormally low. Due to a low level of amniotic fluid in her body, she had to undergo a Caesarian section and she was unable to breastfeed because her body did not receive enough nutrients during the 9 months of her pregnancy. The baby was put into the high risk category.
Looking at the grave condition, the doctor prescribed lactogen powder to be fed to the baby with a dosage of nine spoons of power in 90 ml of water. Girishma was left severely malnourished as both Rekha and her husband found it difficult to comprehend the instructions properly.
To make the situation worse, Girishma contracted Pneumonia when Rekha went to live with her mother in a slum in Kandivali. In a bid to make her better, the baby was given a mustard oil massage. However, the oil and area’s hygiene had an adverse reaction to Girishma’s sensitive skin, and left the baby with a severe fungal infection which caused white fungus to appear on the baby's head and red rashes all along her torso. Rekha and her family was very doubtful about the baby’s survival. They took the baby to several hospitals but the treatment was very expensive and they could not afford it.
Upon their return to Govandi, Apnalaya immediately found them and decided to refer them to the doctor at the municipal office. The doctor took charge, and prescribed a number of medicines, including a blood test to determine Girishma’s health status. He advised to massage the baby with warm coconut oil rather than anything else. All the medicines were provided at a subsidised rate by Apnalaya. The baby’s weight has now increased to a normal weight of 3.660kg.
Meanwhile, Rekha was also counselled about the right way to breastfeed, keeping the household clean, and the importance of boiling water for her baby. Throughout these sessions, they worked on building Rekha’s confidence, and she slowly learned how to take care of the baby and become a good mother.