Home Emergencies: preparadness and response Injury prevention Child protection HIV and AIDS Malaria Hygiene Coughs, colds and more serious illnesses Diarrhoea Immunization Nutrition and growth Breastfeeding Child development and early learning Safe motherhood and newborn health Timing births

The Mother and Child Health and Education Trust



Follow MotherChild on Twitter  Connect with MotherChild on Facebook  Subscribe to HealthPhone on YouTube
Facts for Life

Safe Motherhood

Supporting Information


The risks associated with childbearing for the mother and her baby can be greatly reduced if a woman is healthy and well nourished before becoming pregnant. During pregnancy and while breastfeeding, all women need more nutritious meals, increased quantities of food, more rest than usual, iron-folic acid or multiple micronutrient supplements, even if they are consuming fortified foods, and iodized salt to ensure the proper mental development of their babies.

Why it is important - All key messages - Resources

Adolescent girls, women, pregnant women and new mothers need the best foods available: milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, grains, peas and beans. All of these foods are safe to eat during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Women will feel stronger and be healthier during pregnancy if they eat nutritious meals, consume greater quantities of nutritious food and get more rest than usual. Nutritious foods rich in iron, vitamin A and folic acid include meat, fish, eggs, green leafy vegetables, and orange or yellow fruits and vegetables.

After childbirth, women also need nutritious meals and a greater quantity of food and rest. Breastfeeding mothers need about 500 extra calories per day, the equivalent of an additional meal.

During prenatal visits, a trained health worker can provide the pregnant woman with iron-folic acid or multiple micronutrient supplements to prevent or treat anaemia. Malaria or hookworm infection can be treated if needed. The health worker can also screen the pregnant woman for night blindness and, as necessary, prescribe an adequate dosage of vitamin A to treat the woman and contribute to the healthy development of the fetus.

If the pregnant woman thinks she has anaemia, malaria or hookworms, she should consult a trained health worker.

Salt consumed by families should be iodized. Iodine in a pregnant woman's and young child's diet is especially critical for the healthy development of the child's brain. Goitre, a swelling at the front of the neck, is a clear sign that the body is not getting enough iodine. A diet low in iodine is especially damaging during the early stages of pregnancy and in early childhood. Women who do not have enough iodine in their diet are more likely to have an infant who is mentally or physically disabled. Severe iodine deficiency can cause cretinism (stunted physical and mental growth), stillbirth, miscarriage and increased risk of infant mortality.

Foreword  •  Purpose  •  Structure  •  Essential Messages  •  Guide for Using Facts for Life   •  Glossary  •  Contact

The Mother and Child Health and Education Trust
a U.S. 501(c)(3) non profit organization
our portals and sites
HealthPhone™ Mobile Apps
Guide to Child Care
Community Video
Kyunki-Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai
Rehydration Project
Successful Breastfeeding
Disaster Relief
Community Radio
AIDS action
Polio Free
Health Education to Villages
Breast Crawl
Education for Girls
A Simple Solution
Diarrhoea: 7 Point Plan
HIV and Breastfeeding
Rights of the Child
Mother and Child Nutrition
Mother and Child Health
Facts for Life
Education for Boys
Child Protector
Ebola Resources