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Gifting nurturing baby massage to refugee mothers

Didi Uttama is a yoga nun, who manages the ladies relief team of AMURTEL Greece.  After years of running the NeoHumanist centre in Athens where we held Birthlight workshops, Didi is now the coordinator for AMURTEL Greece and is dedicated to supporting pregnant refugee and migrant women and new mothers with babies from the refugee camps, squats and urban accommodations in the greater Athens area.

Didi gave a moving last-minute presentation at our Womb to World conference in Cambridge while she was in London for fundraising.

We would like to contribute to Didi’s project that resonates with our Birthlight mission. This will take the form of gifting a Training the Trainers course in baby massage and nurture in the new year, but we would like to do more. We need your help as there is an urgent need for resources to keep the project going.

Didi likes the Birthlight Nurturing Baby Massage handbook and thinks that refugee mothers can follow the images to massage their babies. There is a huge amount of research on the benefits of massage for both infants and mothers including after traumatic experiences. Would you be able to contribute the cost of producing one booklet?  Didi has taken our stock of 50 booklets to save postage costs but she needs many more that we will try and send with Birthlight tutors travelling to Greece.

Your contribution will be very well received, thank you!

(We're setting up a donate link, it will be here very soon - please check back)



AMURTEL is an international, grassroots organization managed by women. In Greece, we are committed to assisting refugee mothers and babies to have the best possible perinatal care, despite the challenging lives they face.

Our local and international staff and volunteers are midwives, doulas, breastfeeding specialists, concerned mothers and pro-active women. Woman-to-woman care is the hallmark of the support given by AMURTEL.

During and after disasters, women often show symptoms of stress, depression, lingering shock and grief. Research shows us that pregnant and postpartum women are especially vulnerable.

We aim to provide safe, all-female environments for women to care for themselves, for each other and for their children. AMURTEL strives to reinforce a woman’s confidence and mothering skills, bolster her and her infant’s physical and mental health, and provide information and resources.

“Reproductive health care in emergencies is not a luxury but a necessity that saves lives and reduces illness.” (1)


From pregnancy to postpartum

One in five refugee women of childbearing age (15-45) is likely to be pregnant. (2)  Pregnant women and newborns are disproportionately harmed by disasters, with more miscarriages, premature births, low birth weight infants, undesired pregnancies and birth complications than an average population.


Fragmented or little access to health care, unfamiliar surroundings, and the often unending psychological stress put pregnant women and infants at great risk.

We offer:

  • Prenatal and postnatal exams by licensed midwives
  • Preparation for birth in a Greek hospital
  • Postpartum care of mother and infant
  • Supplemental food during pregnancy and lactation in order to help cover nutritional needs

 
Infant and young child feeding

Breastfeeding is a major factor in infant protection and nutrition, enabling health and stability in an infant during a crisis. However, due to the indiscriminate distribution of breastmilk substitutes combined with many widely disseminated misconceptions about breastmilk, many mothers believe that formula feeding is best. These mothers unwittingly put their children at high risk and often need support to maintain or increase breastfeeding.

The World Health Organization states that infants should be exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of life with breastfeeding and complementary foods both given until two years of age or beyond. During a crisis, this is even more lifesaving than at other times.


We offer:

  • Infant feeding assessments for mothers with children under 2 years of age
  • Information on the crucial importance of breastfeeding in disaster situations whenever possible
  • Help for mothers to increase their milk supply and relactate if possible
  • Advice and support for those who need to give breastmilk substitutes
  • Complementary food for pregnant women and lactating mothers
  • Limited distribution of non-food items, e.g. diapers, infant clothing, baby carriers, and underwear for women.

“Breastfeeding practices need to be protected during emergencies; infants who are not breastfed are at a manifold higher risk of morbidity and mortality than breastfed children.”  (3)


Safe Spaces

Mother-baby areas provide safety, reassurance and resources for mothers to feel supported and access information, particularly in relation to infant feeding. These spaces evolve from the needs and skills of the mothers themselves.

Read a selection of articles that are talking about our projects >
 
References:

  1. The Johns Hopkins and Red Cross Red Crescent
  2. United Nations Population Fund
  3. World Health Organization, Responding to Nutrition Gaps in Jordan in the Syrian Refugee Crisis