She's got it 15:30 03 Nov 2023

Incredible grandmothers: how grandparents are taught to help children and grandchildren in Lviv maternity hospital

How to help young parents take care of newborns and be really helpful? The Lviv Regional Clinical Hospital launched a whole course to help grandparents be better prepared for the challenges of modern child-rearing. The course is based on evidence-based medicine. Rubryka explores how it works.

What is the problem?

Despite the war, losses, worries, and endless air alarms, children continue to be born in Ukraine. Often, the older generation, having their own experience, is ready to help young families and take on the lion's share of caring for babies. However, since our grandmothers were young mothers themselves, a lot has changed: ways of caring for children, technology, feeding and cooking, the view of child safety, and much more. Modern parents do not always trust the previous generation's experience, but despite everything, grandmothers want to share their knowledge. Sometimes, because of this, misunderstandings and even conflicts can arise in families.

What is the solution?

In the maternity hospital of the Lviv Regional Clinical Hospital (LRCH), they decided to break stereotypes and introduced courses for grandmothers. There, future grandmothers are taught how to help care for their grandchildren after being discharged from the maternity hospital. At practical classes, expectant grandmothers are taught exclusively modern and proven options for caring for babies.

How does it work?

"Caring for a baby is a picture made up of a million puzzles"

The training for future grandmothers was called "Incredible grandmothers of an incredible maternity hospital." A neonatologist and ultrasound doctor, Lesya Komarnytska, leads it. Komarnytska has been working in the LRCH maternity hospital for 33 years and has extensive teaching experience. The initiative is part of the School of Happy Parenthood, which operates in the same maternity ward. At the school, in addition to the newly created courses for grandmothers, Komarnytska conducts training for parents "Caring for newborn children".

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Modern recommendations are very different from those that grandmothers knew. Photo: LRCH maternity hospital

"In our school of happy parenthood, we try to cover all the topics that are relevant for those who are expecting a new addition to the family: we tell about the course of pregnancy, nutrition, partner birth, breastfeeding, care for a newborn, recovery after childbirth, we introduce future mothers to yoga for pregnant women," Komarnytska shared with Rubryka. "All trainings occur interactively in a very friendly, even family environment. Our young couples are wonderful, and they want to know everything and learn to do everything on their own."

The doctor says there are many families where a young couple lives with their parents or needs help. Especially now, during the war, many young mothers are left alone with their children and need help raising them. Problems can arise because modern recommendations are very different from those older people know — decades have passed since children were their responsibility.

"I always compare raising and caring for a child with a picture that consists of a million puzzles, and even if at least one does not stand in its place, the picture will not come together," Komarnytska continues. Some grandmothers absolutely 'know for sure' that only their skills in caring for babies are correct. And young parents who read, prepared, and attended parenting school trainings are convinced of their rightness. They come home from the maternity ward with a baby, and they are told that everything is entirely different. There are even cases of rather sharp conflicts. So, to avoid this, the idea arose to create training for grandparents as well.

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At courses at the LRCH maternity hospital, grandmothers study modern and evidence-based options for caring for newborns. Photo: LRCH maternity hospital

The maternity hospital team is convinced that attending this training will help future grandmothers feel confident in their knowledge and skills to be real support for their children and grandchildren in the vital period of the first year of life. The courses will bring new knowledge, keep peace, and aim to bring even more joy to families.

Incredible because they are open to knowledge and communication

"I was a young mother, and I remember how it is to stand up for something new, even when you are young and inexperienced. Therefore, our training is not only about care but also about the rules of coexistence of different generations," says Komarnytska.

At the training, incredible grandmothers learn everything that a grandchild might need in the first months of life: how to properly bathe, care for the skin and navel, how to help establish breastfeeding, how to hold a child, depending on their age, how to dress, walk and do massage.

In addition, they talk about the most valuable things — grandchildren, children, and supporting each other, and that in such a responsible period of life, it is crucial to be around and be needed. The main thing is not to interfere and not to teach, but to learn together and be able to be happy.

"I do not present the material of my lecture in, so to speak, an imperative tone," comments Komarnytska. "We discuss each recommendation: how we did when we were young mothers, how we were taught, and how we should do now, and I justify each recommendation, so already at the lecture, we have a complete mutual understanding."

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Lesya Komarnytska is the initiator and leader of the training for grandmothers. Photo: LRCH maternity hospital

The neonatologist begins each lecture with a question to grandmothers: "When to help young parents?". There is only one correct answer to this question — "when they ask for it." The specialist emphasizes in no case should grandparents replace parents. They should only help. In a family with a baby, everyone must follow the same line of behavior and rules of care and education.

"Under no circumstances should you have a conflict, and even more so in the presence of a child. Every situation can always be discussed. Believe me, the wisest creature in the world is a newborn baby. They understand everything and feel everything," adds Komarnytska.

Who will benefit from the training?

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Lesya Komarnytska shows how to hold a child properly. Photo: LRCH maternity hospital

The course "Incredible grandmothers of an incredible maternity hospital" will be useful to you if:

  • You will soon become a grandmother and want to avoid the worries of caring for your grandchildren.
  • You are looking for information about modern childcare methods and realize that some of your knowledge may be outdated.
  • You have already become a grandmother and faced family problems and are interested in ways to solve them.
  • You have found yourself in a situation where you are not listened to or are expected to make specific decisions.
  • You are ready to help but afraid of making a mistake or causing harm.

Did they really succeed?

Komarnytska, the presenter of trainings for grandmothers, shares her observations: today's grandmothers are actually very creative and want to keep up with the times, so most of them sign up for training themselves. Some grandmothers were convinced by their children to come to listen to advice, and some are undergoing a complex transformation of worldview — from complete non-acceptance to absolute admiration for modern approaches. The doctor notes that along with this, there is a lot of good advice given by older people, and young parents can also listen to them.

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Incredible grandmothers of an incredible maternity hospital. Photo: LRCH maternity hospital

"It's a pity that earlier, there were no such meetings and practical classes for grandmothers caring for newborns. How much easier it would be if we had this knowledge," say those who have already managed to attend the training 'Incredible grandmothers of an incredible maternity hospital' in almost one voice."

After the course, grandmothers who decided to update their childcare knowledge said it was "interesting, comfortable, and useful." Olesya Pokhodylo, an obstetrician-gynecologist at LRCH, writes: "Well, as an experienced grandmother of one year and seven months, I advise all 'potential' grandmothers to attend this lecture. This knowledge will keep your family calm! Because now everything is not as it used to be, and, most importantly, our children know about it."

"I did not expect such a success, although I believed in my rightness, that it was necessary," shares the initiator and host of the courses Komarnytska. "When I announced the training, I said that it had never happened in Lviv, and now I think it had never happened in Ukraine, and probably in other countries. I am very glad our management fully supports all the good ideas. Supports and helps."

Training for grandmothers in the maternity hospital of the Lviv Regional Clinical Hospital takes place once a month. Two trainings have already been held this fall, and the next lecture for grandmothers will start on November 10. Anyone willing can register using the link the maternity hospital publishes on its Facebook page at the beginning of the month. Registration for November can be found here.

Even more useful solutions!

"To give birth during the war is an incredible affirmation of life and victory"

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The future grandmother takes notes of the lecture. Photo: LRCH maternity hospital

"I love children very much. They are the only ones who do not deceive, do not betray. The smallest and, at the same time, the largest. The weakest and, at the same time, the wisest. I love the atmosphere of the delivery room — it is an extraordinary act of birth, and the first cry of a child is the best melody. 'Shout, let the whole world hear you!'"shares Komarnytska.

The doctor notes that all this takes on a special meaning during the war.

"In times of war, this is an incredible affirmation of life and victory over the enemy! I always thank my grandparents for raising their children so well that they dared to give birth during the war. In fact, we probably do not yet realize what great courage it is to give birth at such a time," Komarnytska shared with Rubryka. "When we go down to the shelter during times of alarm, most mothers do not put their children in cribs, but hold them in their arms, protect them with themselves. Yes, we have a war, but it will end, and we must live. Thanks to these grandparents and their children, our generations continue."

What about grandfathers?

So far, no grandfather has come to the courses for grandmothers. But in the maternity ward, they say grandfathers are welcome here.

"Grandfather is the basis of the family, it is a strong link between generations, it is the roots, it is a vital and necessary link in raising children. Grandfathers know unique techniques how to calm a child, tell an interesting story, a fairy tale, a parable, no one knows how. And if grandpa also knows how to change diapers, this is a treasure. So, come — we'll teach you everything," the author of the courses invites grandparents to the classes.

Komarnytska also advises on how to be a good grandmother or grandfather. 

  • The first thing is to believe in your children, to try to give them the opportunity to become parents on their own, and not to be afraid that they will make a mistake. Mistakes are also a good life science.
  • Do not be afraid that you will become unnecessary. You will definitely be called and asked for help.

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