MUMBAI: Earlier this week, the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released a report which revealed that India and Pakistan are among those countries where the rate of infant/newborn deaths is the highest. In response to that, Bollywood actor Kareena Kapoor Khan who is also a mother and UNICEF’s advocate wrote a detailed blog post for the Times of India in which she urged people to step up and “save our newborns.”
Kareena began her post with a detailed account of her own journey of motherhood and how it changed her life positively and how she cherished each moment, she has spent with her son, Taimur Ali Khan.
“For almost every mother, the first days with her newborn baby are precious memories to be cherished forever. They are surely some of the most challenging and at the same time fulfilling days we will experience as women,” she wrote, “I remember some long days and nights, without much sleep. Some were frustrating, as I tried inexpertly to calm my crying child. Some were simply bliss – as I treasured the new life that I had been able to bring into the world.”
“I know I have been fortunate to embark on the journey of parenthood – and I will always remember the first days of my child’s life. I have been lucky.”
However, she wrote that “For too many mothers in South Asia, the first days of their baby’s life will be remembered for a whole different reason,” considering that almost 2800 newborns die every day in South Asia.
To combat this problem and make South Asia a safe place for children to be born, Kapoor put forward three suggestions.
“First, we need to feed our newborn babies in the best way that we can: with our breast milk. To give your baby the best start in life that he or she deserves, start breastfeeding within the first hour of life – and feed the baby only breast milk, nothing else.”
“Second, we need to challenge harmful beliefs and practices that are putting our babies in danger. We need to entrust ourselves to skilled birth attendants who are properly trained to look after us and our babies in the time around birth. If these people are not available, we need to demand them. No woman should give birth without help from a trained birth attendant. It is too dangerous.”
“Third, we need to look after our girls just as well as we look after our boys. As females ourselves, it is incredibly sad that baby girls do not always get the same care that baby boys do. If your baby girl becomes unwell, get help for them just as quickly as you would do for a boy.”
“South Asia can become a region where it is very safe to be born. It is not that difficult. It is not that complicated. So, let’s get to work for our newborns,” she concluded.