Men have been encouraged to bond with their unborn children in order to enhance their brain development once they are delivered.
According to Lillian Awino, a nurse at Lwak Mission Hospital, brain development for a child after birth is dependent on the bond created between the child and their parents while still in the womb.
Speaking in Mahaya in Rarieda Sub County during the launch of the Smart Start project, Awino said men should endeavour to engage with the child as often as possible to create a lasting bond.
“After six months in the womb, the child’s senses are fully developed and they are able to hear and respond to touch,” Awino said
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She also disclosed that at birth, the child’s brain is about 20% developed and needs play, good nutrition, immunization, safety and security for it to grow to 80% by age three when they are expected to join pre-school.
“From the data that we have in health facilities, male involvement in the lives of their children right from conception is still low. Men generally wait for children to grow before trying to get involved which leads to denial of strong foundations in their lives,” Awino observed.
She added that men also need to relate well with the mothers of their child while the child is still in the womb, a development she says makes the child feels safe and secure.
“A child in the womb will easily detect a hostile environment and will be affected by domestic violence in the house which affects their brain development,” Awino said.
According to Siaya County Health Promotion officer Jacob Chieng, men who accompany their wives to clinics have always enjoyed special treatment in health facilities because they often get priority to access health service for their children.
Chieng disclosed that Siaya County Health facilities have developed tailor-made services for men to allow them access services in the facilities in the evenings when they have free time.
“Even though male involvement in the lives of their children is low, there is a significant improvement as compared to five years ago. The number of men taking their wives to clinics has increased significantly and their health-seeking behaviours have also changed thanks to the use of technology where we can communicate directly to men through their phones,” said Chieng.