We plan to start with activities in the rural areas, because we will have a greater effect if we get closer to the citizens from those areas where they have reduced access to important information regarding pregnancy, examinations, nutrition, announced Al Khalili.
The initiative for the establishment of the Association for care and education of pregnant women, mothers and children “Lulka” was about organizing support and education, because the society lacked that kind of education and communication. Our goal and vision is not only the pregnant woman, but also the general population which needs to be informed of these significant issues, because the woman should get support within her family. This is how Denis Al Khalili, medical doctor and a president of “Lulka”, defined this organization, which started functioning in 2009. The free trainings for education and support of pregnant women are Lulka’s trademark.
ONE: Why did you decide on free trainings for pregnant women?
Dr Denis Al Khalili: Why free? Because today everything is paid for, the economic situation is as it is because in Macedonia there have never been activities supporting pregnancy in the form of educational meetings and informal group meetings with professionals. For two years now, “Lulkaˮ has also been offering psychophysical preparation for childbirth. We decided to make the trainings free because this kind of education has never been considered necessary. We were pushing through and promoted it as an opportunity and a way of transferring information, and we realized that more citizens will come if the education is free of charge. It was also important for us that some companies support this activity and promote their products and services on the trainings and thus we finance the program. And thanks to that, to this day, the education is free of charge and there is a lot of interest in her. Our main goal is to cover as many pregnant women and to convey as much information as possible for a healthy pregnancy.
ONE: If there wasn’t enough information regarding pregnancy and childbirth, and today, after two years, that information is available, what information is still lacking? Is there a change in the needs and, accordingly, in the information?
Dr Denis Al Khalili: During the education we give information on childbirth. Unfortunately, in Macedonia, many women who are pregnant for the first time go to childbirth inexperienced, not knowing the childbirth signs and phases, not knowing what contractions are, how to cooperate with the midwife and the gynecologist in order to have an easier delivery. Many complications are related with the unawareness during pregnancy and the unpreparedness of the pregnant woman. Therefore, we pay great attention to the child birthing signs, when’s the right time to go to a hospital, the contractions, how to act if they begin before the envisaged period, how to recognize them, what to do when the water breaks, etc. Believe us that the reaction of the pregnant women and their partners is very positive, they discuss, ask questions, and several friendships are born from these meetings. On the educations, we also give information about premature childbirth. Through its club of parents of prematurely born children “Premnova”, “Lulka” is offering education and support of parents of prematurely born children, of a child who is or was in an incubator, in neonatal intensive care. This is the case with 10% – 15% of all childbirths. A very important part for us and for the visitors of the educations is the part with the psychologist/psychotherapist, who is giving vital information about the psychological state of the pregnant woman and about the signs of postnatal depression. It is considered that around 15% of the mothers suffer from postnatal depression.
ONE: You mentioned that a part of the education is the healthy nutrition for the pregnant women. Is it possible to provide healthy nutrition with little money/small family budget?
Dr Denis Al Khalili: We do not require a lot of money for healthy nutrition. The opinion that quality food costs a lot is wrong. The medics and nutritionists recommend large quantities of fresh food (fruit and vegetables). Fresh food can be bought on the market every day and eaten. The proteins, such as meat, are also important. Pregnant women should have a balanced diet from all nutrition groups, proteins, fats and carbohydrates. I think that the education on nutrition is very important for the socially vulnerable groups, because they often pay for something which is not healthy, prioritizing food that is cheaper, and important for the health of the pregnant woman and her baby.
ONE: Do you have a strategy how to reach to the economically vunerable groups?
Dr Denis Al Khalili: For over a year, “Lulka” has been collaborating with SOS Children Village and with their Counseling centres for parents and children from Skopje’s municipalities Gazi Baba and Suto Orizari. Over there, “Lulka” has been implementing trainings for the parents about the health of their children and about the qualitative pregnancy for the pregnant women. We are planning a collaboration and realization of trainings with other organizations which work with the vulnerable groups of citizens, and we also plan to begin with activities in the rural areas. We expect a bigger success if we get near the people from these areas where they have less access to the important information regarding pregnancy, the examinations, the nutrition during pregnancy and the correct way to raise and educate a child.