A new mother supported

This story is from Thembisa Niomana, one of our Mentor Mothers.

Thembisa found a 23 year old new mother-to-be in her area who was very close to delivery. She was new to the area and had only recently found out that she was HIV positive. Thembisa visited her regularly to help her come to terms with her HIV status and prepare her for the birth of her first child.

Her baby was born in April 2014 and weighed just 1310g. Thembisa visited her often to help her exclusively breastfeed her child, and to speak to her about the importance of kangaroo mother care, and the importance of giving medication to her child to prevent the transmission of HIV.

The mother herself weighed only 46.2kg so Thembisa counselled her on the importance of taking her treatment, eating healthily and looking after herself in order to be able to provide her child with the best care possible. She also helped the mother manage the side effects that occur in the beginning of taking ARV treatment and offered her psychosocial support by visiting her often, listening to her and providing basic counselling.

After visiting this mother two or three times each month, the baby now weighs 5.4kg at six months one week and was exclusively breastfed for the entire first six months of her life. All of the child’s immunisations are up-to-date and in the most recent PCR test, the child was found to be HIV negative.

The mother is also adhering to her treatment and is coping well with her status. When the programme manager visited the mother together with Thembisa, the mother expressed how much having a Mentor Mother nearby has meant to her; she spoke of how proud she was of herself for raising her child well so far and said it was due to all the information and support Thembisa had given her.

As a first time mother she had no idea about the importance of breastfeeding before being visited but now, looking at her happy, well developing baby she realizes how important it is.

Thembisa will continue to visit this mother to help her introduce her baby to solid foods and appropriate complementary foods and continue to offer support to this family.