Next stop is the Kangaroo Ward, one of the projects we’ve supported by funding meals for the mums via Friends of Sick Children in Malawi. Here babies with birth weights of around one kilogram are kept skin to skin with mum until they reach one and a half kilos, staying as long as this takes. Traditionally babies are carried using a big scarf on mum’s back but these babes nestle safely next to mum at the front, feeding on demand 24 hrs a day. Mums even sleep with them like this and no baby has been squashed yet.
This is probably the happiest ward we’ve been on, the mums are eager to have their photos taken, calling to each other to join in. They’re delighted when Dave shows them on his camera, laughing and giggling. I’m not sure what the average birth weight is in the UK but Claire was 7lb 11oz and Becca was 9lb 10oz! I show them photos of our girls and explain their birth weights in kilos, ‘ouch’ for a baby almost 4.5 kg is understood in any language.
The Kangaroo mums will also be one of the sources of a new Milk Bank project. There’s no money to buy specialised formula milk for prem babies so these mums will express spare milk to be flash pasteurised and used for other little ones. Formula milk is only available for orphans or if mum is very ill. The unit keeps records of who’ve donated and which babe received. All mums are checked for their HIV status, and the milk has been successfully used to support babies with HIV positive mums to reduce the viral load.
Breastfeeding is the norm in Malawi, I wish I could say the same for the UK.