The Challenges of Child Birth in an IDP Camp - Indonesia

Surahmi* was eight and a half months pregnant and at home with her husband, Zulkarnaen, in Central Sulawesi when a 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck on September 28, 2018.

Above: Surahmi and her son, Rahmat. Photo Credit: Roy Rey, YSTC.

Above: Surahmi and her son, Rahmat. Photo Credit: Roy Rey, YSTC.

Their house shook so violently and was so damaged that they were not sure they would make it out.

“When the earthquake hit Central Sulawesi, I was in the kitchen, my husband in the living room. The shake was so violent , I fell and my husband fell into a hole in the living room, but he managed to climb from the hole and help me get out of the house,” Surahmi recalled.

The couple made it out safely and relocated to an IDP camp, where they stayed for two months before being provided with temporary government housing as they could not return home.

Eight days later, Surahmi gave birth to a son, Rahmat, in the camp.

Above: YSTC breastfeeding counsellor providing re-lactation support to Surahmi. This technique is called ‘supplementary suckling’ - a tube is taped on to the mother's breast and the baby is attached. When the baby suckles, they suck the 'supplement' through the tube while stimulating the mother's breast milk supply. Photo Credit: Roy Rey, YSTC.

Above: YSTC breastfeeding counsellor providing re-lactation support to Surahmi. This technique is called ‘supplementary suckling’ - a tube is taped on to the mother's breast and the baby is attached. When the baby suckles, they suck the 'supplement' through the tube while stimulating the mother's breast milk supply. Photo Credit: Roy Rey, YSTC.

Surahmi had a difficult labour, and struggled to breastfeed Rahmat. She began using infant formula, which while a lifesaving option, it can pose risks in an emergency context due to a lack of clean water and hygiene. 

AHP partner, Save the Children, through their local partner, Yayasan Sayangi Tunas Cilik (YSTC), supported Surahmi and her family in those challenging first few weeks. 

“Eight days after the earthquake, Rahmat was born. I could not breastfeed Rahmat, I was overwhelmed by our situation. My breasts could not produce milk at that time, so I just give formula milk to Rahmat. YSTC taught me the importance of breastfeeding and providing the right nutrition for my baby boy. They also taught me a re-lactation method and scheduled weekly monitoring for Rahmat,” Surahmi said.

Above: Surahmi, Zulkarnaen and Rahmat in their temporary housing. Photo Credit: Roy Rey, YSTC.

Above: Surahmi, Zulkarnaen and Rahmat in their temporary housing. Photo Credit: Roy Rey, YSTC.

After several one-on-one counselling sessions with YSTC’s breastfeeding counsellors, Surahmi was able to breastfeed Rahmat and ensure he received the nutrition needed to grow and develop.

*Names have been changed

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In 2018, Save the Children Australia received AUD $333,300 to support immediate response efforts in Sulawesi. YSTC was one of Save the Children’s Indonesian partners already established and operational in Sulawesi.