Breastfeeding support after the earthquake

Twenty-one-year old mother, Srijana kissed and clutched her one-month-old baby girl, Dipika, tightly, as she recounted how she was able to survive the first earthquake that hit Nepal last May 25.

“I was cooking for lunch when the ground started shaking. I felt very dizzy and I fell on the ground. I was seven months pregnant that time. As quickly as I could, I managed to run away from my house. In few moments, our house collapsed,” recounts Srijana.

"I’m thankful she’s healthy. She’s a survivor baby."

Srijana lives in Belghari village. The majority of the houses were damaged and people are living temporarily in the tents. The earthquake affected around 106 expected pregnant women, 90 newborn babies, and 248 lactating mothers in Dudbhanjyang Village Development Committee.

During the first week after the earthquake, Srijana and her husband lived in cramped tents with 10 families. With no food and water, she worried about the baby inside her womb. Luckily, her neighbors shared their food with her and they used boiled rainwater for drinking.

For weeks, while waiting for her due-date, Srijana survived on rations and whatever her husband could find.

“I would line up for relief distribution for hours under the sun as my husband looked for food,” she added.

In an emergency, one of World Vision’s vital focus areas is to prevent malnutrition particularly with infants, children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. World Vision partnered with the Ministry of Health and community health volunteers to conduct counseling sessions on breastfeeding.

Two months after the earthquake, Srijana gave birth to her first baby, Dipika at a village health centre. “I’m thankful she’s healthy. She’s a survivor baby,” says Srijana.

“It’s not easy to continue to breastfeed after an emergency, when mothers are put under pressure."

At the village hall World Vision conducts counseling sessions on breastfeeding. Srijana along with other pregnant and lactating moms attended free health sessions for mothers and babies.  

 “I learned about how to properly breastfeed my baby,” says Srijana.

“It’s not easy to continue to breastfeed after an emergency, when mothers are put under pressure, but it is very important to ensure children and mothers are well,” says Sushila Shankar, community nurse in Belghari village.

To support breastfeeding in several districts affected by the earthquake, World Vision is establishing safe and comfortable spaces to breastfeed, rest, and receive skilled counseling, health and nutrition education, and advice on breastfeeding and nutrition.

“We’ve already started setting up Women and Young Child Spaces in some villages to provide support for women struggling with feeding challenges after the earthquake,” says Moniek Kindred, Health and Nutrition Manager, World Vision Nepal Earthquake Response.

Srijana’s husband is trying to find better ways to rebuild their house especially because it rains almost everyday in Sindhuli. They don’t have money to buy raw materials but they are hoping to be included on the list of beneficiaries of building materials from the government and other non-government organizations.

“I’m glad to join the breastfeeding session. I couldn’t wish for anything but to keep my baby Dipika safe and healthy,” says Srijana.