It’s been a bit quieter on SCBU recently. I like to have the time to get to know the mothers and find out a bit about their lives. So I sit on the bedside (well, it’s a raised platform) and chat, with a medic translating. It’s a bit like being a GP.
Baby X (they are usually not named until they are a month old) was not putting on weight. Failing to thrive, as we say. The mother was very experienced, having had eight pregnancies. We went through a checklist of what could be holding the baby back. Perhaps the mother was not breast feeding the baby frequently enough. I asked one of the nurses to keep a close eye on her interaction with the baby.
The following day, the baby had gained some weight and the nurse was satisfied that, under observation, she was feeding the baby well. I wondered about what would happen when she took the baby home. So I asked how she had managed after the home delivery.
“I fed the baby rice at first, as I didn’t have much milk for the first few days,” she said.
I was flabbergasted. “Boiled rice?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“Is this a traditional practice?” I enquired.
Another woman in the bed opposite said, “No it isn’t a tradition for us. I live in the same village as her and no one else does this.”
“Well it’s a tradition in our home,” said the mother. The nurse went into a detailed discussion of the many benefits of colostrum. There might not be a lot of it, but it’s grand stuff. Meanwhile, I wondered about baby rice. At least she hadn’t tried to feed it a banana.