Dana: “Now I am more confident… Now I can breastfeed my twins”
Author/s: Celina Kain and Dalia Al Mokdad for Action Against Hunger
In this collective shelter around 50 families live there from different nationalities: Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian. Considering this center had many women and young children, Action Against Hunger and UNICEF decided to provide nutrition support in this collective shelter. The project implemented with support of UNICEF included addressing the nutrition security of vulnerable pregnant and lactating women and caregivers of children under five years of age by providing support on appropriate infant and young child feeding practices, timely detection of acute malnutrition and provision of micronutrient supplements in and South of Lebanon in south Lebanon.
In this visit to the center the beneficiaries shared their feedback about the health and nutrition awareness sessions provided support for Syrian and Lebanese pregnant and lactating women and caregivers for children under 5 years in South Lebanon. The main purpose of these activities is to enable women to practice optimal infant and young child feeding, which includes giving breastmilk only the first 6 months, timely, safe and appropriate complementary feeding starting at 6 months, and continue breastfeeding until at least 2 years of age to facilitate their breastfeeding experience and let them enjoy the journey with their child.
(2) Dana a Syrian refugee with her kids Nagham (11 months), Akram (11 months) and Nour (4 years old) chatting with Action Against Hunger team in a collective shelter in South of Lebanon, May 2022. (Cynthia Bou Zeid © Action Against Hunger).
One of the mothers who lives in the collective shelter is Dana. She is a Syrian woman who left her home country and came to Lebanon 12 years ago. First, she was living in another village, in the south with her family and when she got married, she moved to this collective shelter.
Dana is always proud and excited to share her experience about breastfeeding, not only for one child but with twins! She is a mother of 4 children, two of them are twins: a girl and a boy; Nagham & Akram born in June 2021. Dana explained that when she gave birth to her twins, she lacked confidence and worried that her milk would not be enough for both, so she decided to give formula milk to her baby boy.
“I used to breastfeed my other children. It was fine for me because I just had one child at the time. When I gave birth to my twins, I tried to breastfeed Akram and Nagham although I thought that my milk would not be enough for both, so I tried the formula milk, but Nagham didn’t accept it, so I gave it to her brother”, Dana said.
3) Dana a Syrian refugee and her daughter Nagham (11 months) attending one of the health and nutrition awareness sessions with the presence of her neighbors in a collective shelter in South of Lebanon in May 2022. (Cynthia Bou Zeid © Action Against Hunger).
In addition, the Community Nutrition Officer at Action Against Hunger visited Nour, Dana’s 4-year-old daughter, to assess her nutritional situation and provide her with the needed multi-micronutrient powder. In addition, the team learned about the challenges she faces to breastfeed her twins, so the intervention started.
“During that period, Celina from Action Against Hunger visited us to deliver awareness sessions about breastfeeding and its techniques. She told me that I can breastfeed both my babies and encouraged me to do that based on her instruction and frequent follow ups. I was seriously losing hope, but the follow-ups made a great difference.”
(4) Dana a Syrian refugee feeding her twins Nagham (11 months), Akram (11 months) at the same time in her home in a collective shelter in South of Lebanon in May 2022. (Cynthia Bou Zeid for Action Against Hunger).
Breastfeeding can be done in several positions. Mothers should try which position is most comfortable for they and their infant, but there are a few things to think about that will enable a good latch by making sure that the ears, shoulder, and hip are aligned and that the baby and mother are tummy-to-tummy and baby is close to the mother. Dana learned a technique and a position to help her breastfeed two children at the same time. She had several misconceptions about breastfeeding and breastmilk, for instance related to the effect of colostrum on baby’s health.
“The visits were essential to break a lot of stereotypes that my neighbors and I had about mothers’ milk and breastfeeding… I used to believe that colostrum -first milk that my body produced- might negatively affect my baby's health and causes jaundice, but now I am aware of its importance and advantages”.
(5) Dana a Syrian refugee giving her child Akram (11 months) an apricot to her child Akram in her home located in a collective shelter in South of Lebanon in May 2022. (Cynthia Bou Zeid for Action Against Hunger).
A few months later, Akram and Nagham turned 6 months and they were now introduced to complementary food.