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When Project Vruddhi’s Field Coordinators were interacting with a young mother: Shilpa and her family of farm labourers, in a village in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat, counselling them on Exclusive Breastfeeding (EBF) practices and explaining the importance of growth monitoring of the child, along with nutritious diet for the young mother; they found out that Shilpa’s nutrition was compromised because of a soico-cultural myth she was enforced upon.
She was low-on-energy and sick when the team visited her. This was the second time, she had fallen sick, post delivering a child. This was a matter of concern because it could lead Shilpa to become a malnourished mother at a phase of her life when her nutritional requirement is high.
Shilpa was instructed by her mother to only have semolina (suji) which supports digestion and promotes regular bowel movements. Post delivery, Shilpa just had semolina and nothing else as her diet intake for until three months. While semolina is good for a mother, excluding other key nutrients does create a nutrition gap for the mother for which she was counseled to include green leafy vegetables, fruits, lentils, millet/wheat flat-bread, rice etc as well in her regular diet.
Inadequate intake of nutrients like calcium, folate, iron, zinc and iodine can lead to anaemeia, hemorrhage and even death in mothers. If the mother doesn’t get optimal nutrition while she breastfeeds, it is going to adversely affect her health along with growth and development of her child. Across the globe, women’s diet is affected by many factors: accessibility, affordability, gender inequality, socio-cultural practices…all of these affect’s a woman’s diet and nutritional needs. This nutritional gap, micronutrient supplement, rest, care and counseling support are critical in preventing malnutrition for adolescent mother and their children and that is why Project Vruddhi’s Field Coordinators along with Anganwadi Workers(AWW) conduct repeated home-visits of pregnant and lactating mothers, children up to 2 years of age so the healthier foundation of a life can be ensured.
This intervention was important in this case of a young mother, who had fallen sick twice in the span of three months, after giving birth to a child. Her nutritional needs were compromised but through continual engagement and regular behaviour change counseling now her diet has been improvised which has positively impacted her health and growth and development of her child.
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