Pregnancy and the postnatal period are critical times for ensuring the health and wellbeing of women and their children. Anaemia during pregnancy is common and can have serious consequences for both mother and child, including increased risk of low birthweight and preterm birth, as well as maternal and perinatal mortality.[1&2] Iron deficiency is a major cause of anaemia among pregnant women. Iron requirements increase substantially during pregnancy and it is difficult to meet these needs with food alone. Based on evidence of reduced risk of anaemia, iron deficiency and other adverse outcomes including having a low birthweight baby, WHO recommends daily iron and folic acid (IFA) supplementation throughout pregnancy. This is in addition to a series of other recommendations for nutrition interventions as part of antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience and other important maternal and child outcomes.
Optimal care and feeding of newborns helps ensure babies survive and sets the stage for healthy growth and development. For example, initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of life, as recommended by WHO[5&6], increases the likelihood of exclusive breastfeeding and reduces the chance of newborn illness or death . The newborn period, which is the first 28 days of life, is the most vulnerable time in a child’s life, and accounts for almost half (46%) of the total deaths in children under five years of age . Fortunately, many of these deaths are preventable through evidence-informed, low-cost care, such as supporting mothers to start breastfeeding soon after birth, which can be delivered even in resource-limited settings.
Nutrition International works in collaboration with government and other partners to improve maternal and newborn health and nutrition (MNHN) through enhancing the provision, quality and integration of health and nutrition services and empowering women and their families to seek care and adopt healthy behaviours.
Nutrition International contributes to improving MNHN in India by:
This work is in partnership with state government in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. This project supports implementation in three districts in Gujarat (Vadodara, Panchmahal and Dahod) and two districts in Uttar Pradesh (Gorakhpur and Basti). NI has supported MNHN programming in India since 2015 and support is ongoing.
Although this section describes MNHN, wherever possible, Nutrition International’s work in India follows a comprehensive and integrated approach, with a strong focus on the first 1000 days, from pregnancy through 2 years of age.
For more information:
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