Maryam’s story: Caring for a newborn without the support of my family in Syria

For Palestinian women living as refugees in Lebanon, pregnancy, childbirth and caring for a new baby can be a particularly worrying ordeal.

Palestinian refugees have very limited or no access to state-run hospitals and clinics. New and expectant mothers can only visit overstretched UNRWA clinics, where the average consultation time is less than three minutes. There is virtually no support to help tackle post-natal depression, and not enough time to promote breastfeeding or receive advice on infant care.

That is where Medical Aid for Palestinians’ (MAP’s) community midwives come in, providing the only home-visiting midwifery service in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

Thanks to their hard work over many years, breast-feeding rates have increased, and anemia, high-risk pregnancies and the rates of caesarean section deliveries have reduced.

MAP’s team in Lebanon spoke to Maryam*, a Palestinian refugee from Syria now living in Lebanon, about the care and support she received from midwife Rania*:

“My family and I fled the war in Syria and took shelter in one of the Palestinian camps in Lebanon. I met my husband here, and we stayed after my family went back to Syria.

“I first learnt about MAP’s midwives when I was pregnant. It was my first pregnancy, and my family was not with me. I was clueless and did not know anything about pregnancy or how to take care of a newborn. One day early on in my pregnancy, the midwife, Rania, came to my door to talk  about the project. Rania asked me if I wished to enroll in the home visiting service. I immediately accepted, especially as it is free-of-charge.

“Rania became my source of support and encouragement; she was the person I would go to with all my questions and concerns. She always responded to my questions; regardless how trivial they were. A first-time mother usually gets worried about everything.

“During home visits, Rania checked my blood pressure and listened to the baby’s heartbeat-which was something I looked forward to. I felt happy and relaxed when I heard that the pregnancy was going well and the baby was fine. When the delivery date was approaching, I started getting nervous as I did not know much about childbirth. Rania explained the process clearly and helped me feel prepared and aware of everything that was happening to me.

“Rania continued to visit me after I gave birth to my now-six-month-old daughter Leila*. I remember how much she helped me, teaching me how to care for Leila’s umbilical cord stump. Every visit Rania used to examine my daughter carefully and check her weight and height to see if she was growing well.

“Perhaps what I like the most is the respectful and kind way Rania treated me and my family. She always calls before the home visit to make sure that the scheduled time is still suitable for me and she explains the purpose of the visit and what it will include.

“I hope the midwifery project continues for a very long time. The home visits are very important especially for first-time or displaced mothers like me. I am very happy with the project and I can’t ask for anything more.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, MAP has supported our midwives to take important precautionary measures to safeguard their own health ahead of home visits and is procuring face masks, antiseptic lotions, and gloves so individual health education sessions can be safely conducted.

By supporting MAP, you are helping us keep our essential home-visiting midwifery service running, and giving Palestinian babies in Lebanon a better chance of a brighter future.

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* Names changed to protect identities

 

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