This is a wonderful promotional video by the Philippines’ Department of Health on the Essential Newborn Care launched in 2009. Two of Naima’s doctors are here – Dr. Silvestre and Dr. Bautista.

The campaign, entitled Unang Yakap – Yakap ng Ina, Yakap ng Buhay which translates to First Embrace – Embrace of Mother, Embrace of Life, seeks to cut down infant mortality rates. The steps enumerated in the above video are more explained in a slide from a presentation by Dr. Silvestre below:
The Essential Newborn Care categorizes post-natal procedures into time-bound, non-time bound and unnecessary actions. It is interesting to note that only 4 steps are time-bound – immediate drying with quick check, skin-to-skin contact, cord clamping (but not immediate! only after cord pulsations stop) and early initiation of breastfeeding.
Other procedures thought to be necessary e.g. bathing, immunization, cord care were considered to be less important than breastfeeding. The guidelines also consider routine suctioning, routine separation of newborns for observation, administration of prelacteals like glucose water or formula, and footprinting as UNNECESSARY procedures.
This is such an wonderful development since here in the Philippines, doctors considering taking the weights, APGAR scores, etc. to be even more important than breastfeeding. In fact, I know some moms whose babies were taken from them immediately after birth and they only saw their babies again after 24 hours! Really, how I would like to show these guidelines to several pediatricians in this country!
My office was lucky because during our breastfeeding festival last week, we had Dr. Silvestre with Dr. Jessa Sareno to explain the essential newborn care. Her talk was very well attended and I thought it was very good that most of her audience were pregnant moms. Now they know what the Department of Health mandates will learn better than to listen to those “medical experts”.
Dr. Silvestre is not holding clinic nowadays because she is very busy promoting the guidelines all over the country. Hopefully, these guidelines will become established hospital policy and those unnecessary mom-baby separations will come to an end.
*Thanks Claire for the heads-up!

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