A five months old infant delivered after seven months of pregnancy in rural community of Kebbi State has miraculously survived after the mother was guided to apply a Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) method.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that KMC is a method of care for preterm infants, which involves infants being covered on the stomach by the mother, with skin-to-skin contact.
The method provides protection from infection; regulate temperature, breathing and brain activity; and encouraged mother-baby bonding.
The baby girl named Rahama, was born five months ago at Unguwan Amada, a rural community in Argungu Local Government Area of the state to an 18-year old mother, Masauda Abdullahi.
The mother, who got married at 15, told NAN that she delivered the baby at home and never went for Antenatal Care (ANC) because there was no health facility in the community.
“She is my first child and was in the seventh months of the pregnancy when I delivered her, and knowing that the birth was too early, I was terrified that I will certainly lose the baby.
“I have given up because I learnt that such babies hardly survive and was just waiting to see how it will happen, when a health official came to our community and gave us hope.
“She guided me on how to cover the baby on my stomach at all times and asked me not to bath her but clean her with soft fabrics socked with warm water.
“The official also asked me to stop giving her water and taught me how to extract breastmilk and feed the baby at regular intervals because she was too frail to soak the breast on her own.
“I followed every instruction judiciously and miraculously my bay is now six months, healthy and surviving against all odds,” she said.
She thanked the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the European Union for organising the outreach programme to provide access to healthcare services for people in Hard-To-Reach (HTR) areas.
The official, Ms Afiniki Musa, Lead, Argungu HTR Outreach Team of UNICEF and EU supported Maternal, New-born, Child Health and Nutrition in the state, said that the baby weight 1.5 kilogram at birth.
“We came for outreached programme to provide ANC, immunisation, nutrition and other health services to pregnant mothers and the community, when we heard that there was woman who had a preterm birth.
“We asked to see the woman and the baby, and we found that the baby was too frail, could not open her eyes and could not soak breast.
“The fragile infant was also being fed with water and herbs solution made from neem tree,” she said.
Musa, a midwife, said that after taking the baby to the nearest health facility, she found that the baby weight was just 1.5 kilogram instead of between 2.6kg and 4kg for normal babies.
“After coming back from the hospital, I taught the mother and the child’s grandmother the KMC method and how to feed the baby with extracted breast milk and mandated them to go postnatal care.
“They followed all the instructions and after two weeks the baby’s weight improved to 1.7kg, at four weeks she increased to 2kg and now at five months she weights 4kg,” she added.
The official explained that the preterm birth could have been avoided if the mother, who had untreated malaria during pregnancy went for ANC.
She said that some of the common causes of preterm birth include infections and chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, including genetic influence.
“Complications associated with a premature birth include immature lungs, difficulty regulating body temperature, poor feeding and slow weight gain.
“Premature babies may need longer or more intense nursery care, medication and sometimes surgery and preventing deaths and complications from preterm birth starts with accessing ANC.
“This will ensure access to quality care that will ensure quality healthy pregnancy and delivery,” she added.
The World Health Organisation said that an estimated 15 million babies are born too early every year, adding that one million children die each year due to complications of preterm birth.