Mother and Child-Essential Message
The Following are The Essential Message Distilled from Facts for Life.
- The health of both women and children can be significantly improved when births are spaced at least two years apart, when pregnancy is age 18 and after age 35, and when a woman has no more than four pregnancies in total.
- All pregnant women should visit a health worker for prenatal care, and all births should be assisted by a skilled birth attendant. All pregnant women and their families need to know the warning signs of problems during pregnancy and have plans for obtaining immediate skilled help if problems arise.
- Children learn from the moment of birth. They grow and learn fastest when they receive attention, affection and stimulation, in addition to good nutrition and proper health care. Encouraging children to observe and to express themselves, to play and explore, helps them learn and develop socially, physically and intellectually.
- Breastmilk alone is, the only food and drink an infant needs for the first six months. After six months, infants need other foods in addition to breastmilk.
- Poor nutrition during the mothers pregnancy or during the child's first two years can slow a child's mental and physical development for life. From birth to age two, children should be weighed every month. If a young child does not gain weight over a two-month period, something is wrong.
- Every child needs a series of immunizations during the first years of life to protect against diseases that can cause poor growth, disability or death.
Every woman of childbearing age needs to be protected against tetanus. Even if the woman was immunized earlier, she needs to check with a health worker.
- A child with diarrhoea needs to drink plenty of the right liquids - breastmilk, fruit juice or oral rehydration salts (ORS).
If the diarrhoea is bloody or frequent and watery, the child is in danger and should be taken to a health centre for immediate treatment.
- Most children with coughs or colds will get better on their own. But if a child with a cough is breathing rapidly or with difficulty, the child is in danger and needs to be taken to a health centre for immediate treatment.
- Many illnesses can be prevented by good hygiene practices - using clean toilets or latrines, washing hands with soap and water or ash and water after defecating and before handling food, using water from a safe source, and keeping food and water clean.
- Malaria, which is transmitted through mosquito bites, can be fatal. Wherever malaria is common, mosquito nets treated with a recommended insecticide should be used, any child with a fever should be examined by a trained health worker, and pregnant women should take antimalarial tablets recommended by a health worker.
- AIDS is a fatal but preventable disease. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, spreads through unprotected sex (intercourse without a condom) transfusions of unscreened blood, contaminated needles and syringes (most often those used for injecting drugs), and from an infected woman to her child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
It is essential for everyone to know about HIV/AIDS and how to prevent it. The risk of infection through the primary sexual route can be reduced by practicing safer sex.
Women who are or could be infected with HIV should consult a qualified health worker for information, counselling and testing to protect their health and reduce the risk of infecting their infants.
- Many serious accidents can be prevented if parents or caretakers watch young children carefully and keep their environment safe.
- In disaster or emergency situations, children should receive essential health care, including measles vaccination and micronutrient supplementation.
In stressful situations, it is always preferable for children to be cared for by their parents or other familiar adults. Breastfeeding is particularly important at this time.
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