Adequate pre- and post-delivery care can reduce neonatal deaths

Breastfeeding immediately after birth is of utmost importance
New Delhi, December 16, 2018 :

Statistics indicate that India can avert about 71% of an estimated 6 lakh neonatal deaths each year if all mothers deliver at a healthcare facility, have access to caesarean section services, safe blood and if special care for sick newborns are available. Neonatal deaths take place within the first 28 days of life and account for 62% of all under-5 deaths in India.

An estimated 5 million women still deliver at home each year without any skilled birth attendance, with half the births taking place in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar alone. Globally, 2.9 million lives of mothers and children can be saved by 2030 by providing pre-conception care during pregnancy, labor and delivery, care of the healthy newborn and help for sick newborns.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI and Dr Anita kant sr Gynaecologist said, “There is a need for skilled care during birth and postnatal checkups, both of which are essential for the well-being of the mother and the newborn. A newborn requires thermal and cord care, and immediate breastfeeding. The postnatal period is the time following delivery until six weeks after birth, and health checks during this time – especially the first two days after delivery – are absolutely essential. Postnatal care can help in checking for and averting any danger signs such as insufficient feeding, fast breathing (a breathing rate of more than 60 per minute), severe chest in drawing, lethargy, fever, low body temperature, or jaundice. This is also the time when mothers are advised on how to identify and respond to these symptoms, as well as the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding and immunization.”

Postnatal care can help in checking for and averting any danger signs such as insufficient feeding, fast breathing (a breathing rate of more than 60 per minute), severe chest in drawing, lethargy, fever, low body temperature, or jaundice.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “There has been a significant decline in neonatal deaths in India. This has largely been the result of countrywide efforts to expand health services coverage, including reproductive, maternal and newborn health services. However, there is a still a long way to go in terms of expanding the reach of such efforts into the remote areas and ensuring access to postnatal healthcare to mothers and newborns there.”

The following points are a must to remember after childbirth.

  • Wash your hands with soap or use a hand sanitizer before handling the baby.
  • Be careful to support the baby’s head and neck.
  • Start breastfeeding within an hour of birth.
  • Ensure that the baby is exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months.
  • Child should be fed on demand or at least 8 times in 24 hours.
  • Avoid feeding honey, water or things other than breast milk in lieu of a ritual as it can be a source of infection to a baby.
  • Give the baby a sponge bath until the umbilical cord falls off and the navel heals completely (1-4 weeks).
  • Kangaroo Mother Care especially for low birth weight infants, wherein the baby is held in a special way stuck with the chest to provide skin to skin contact with the mother along with exclusive and frequent breastfeeding.

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