The health services provided to the women during pregnancy, delivery and lactating period and to the children under the age of the five with an aim of improving their health condition are called maternal and child health care. Lack of attention in maternal and child health care is the main cause of untimely death of the mother and children in the worth. Improvement in the community health is impossible unless there is significant progress in the maternal and child health care. The condition of maternal and child health care is very poor in the developing country nations like ours in comparison to the developed nations. The health status of developing nations is deteriorating due to high maternal, infant and child mortality rates. It is highly imperative to bring significant improvement in maternal and child health care to improve condition of the country.
The following points reflect the importance of maternal and child health care:
A child resides in the mother's womb for around nine month and the birth of a fully developed infant takes place. All the members should extend necessary support during the period to achieve safe motherhood. Adverse effects may appear in safe motherhood in absence of a good harmony among the family members. Thus, family members have a vital role for safe motherhood. The life of birth, the mother and the baby can be protected from the untimely death by necessary support from the family members.
A healthy mother can give birth to a healthy baby. So, it is crucial to take care of the health of a woman since the starting of pregnancy. For this, a nutritious diet, regular health check- up, cleanliness, exercise, rest and immunization against diseases are important points to be considered.
The end of pregnancy is marked by the labour. It is a highly complicated stage, so women should be intensively taken care during their stage. This stage consists of three phases. The cervix dilates and the labour starts in the first phase. The baby is born in the second phase and the placenta comes out from the wall of the uterus and passes through the vagina in the third phase. The following care should be taken during the delivery of a baby:
The period between delivery and two months after delivery is called postnatal period. The infant entirely depends on the mother for his survival in this period. So, proper care should be provided to both the mother and infant during the period. Some of the ways to provide care to the mother or infant are as follows:
An average weight of three kilogram and height of fifty centimeter is considered appropriate for a newly born baby. The weight should be three times more than the weight of birth and height should be seventy five centimeters after completing one year in the average if the child attains healthy growth and development.
An infant should be taken care of as follows:
The mother's milk is considered the best nutrition for an infant. Breast feeding should be done to a newly born baby for the first four month. Mother,s milk provides sufficient nutrition and develops a strong immune system to fight against diseases. Nourishing the infants with the packet milk and other animal milks is not considered appropriate from the perspective of health at the beginning of child nutrition.
Breast Feeding has got the following advantages:
The following table has shown the nutritional requirement of children up to two years of age:
|Age group||Food items|
|0-5 months||Mothers milk|
|5-6 months||Mothers milk, lotto and mashed vegetables.|
|6-9 months||Mothers milk, lotto and mashed vegetables and soft fruits.|
|1-2 years||Mothers milk, rice, pulses, lotto, dal, cereals, green vegetables, egg, meat, milk, butter, etc.|
Points for attention
The advantages of breast feeding are:
Colostrums mean the milk of mother immediately after the birth of baby to the period about one week. Colostrums are rich in antibodies.
The importances of colostrums are as follows:
Immunization is the process of increasing immunity power against different disease germs by administering the related immunizing vaccination. If there is vaccination against any diseases, the chance of onset disease is less. The body develops capacity to fight and kill the causative germs by immunization. The table given below gives information about immunization against different diseases:
|Name of vaccination||Disease controlled||Age at first dose||Number of dose||Time interval|
|B.C.G||Tuberculosis (TB)||Within one year||1||-|
|D.P.T||Diphtheria, Pertusis||6 weeks - 1 year||3||1/1 month|
|Hepatitis B||Hepatitis B||6 weeks - 1 year||3||Second dose after one month of first dose and third dose after 6 months.|
|Polio||Poliomyelitis||6 weeks - 1 year||3||1/1 month|
|Measles||Measles||9 months- 1 year||1||-|
|T.T (tetanus toxin)||Tetanus||Pregnant women (two dose in the first pregnancy and a single dose in others)||5||1/1 month|
The objective of maternal and a child health care are to give good health to the baby and mother throughout the life. The importance of maternal and child health cares are as follows:
The newly born baby should be cared in the following ways:
Breast milk is ideal for the infant. It contains various elements in the correct proportion required by the baby. Prolonged breast feeding prevents the infant form malnutrition and some infections. No additional food is required for the baby until 4-5 months after birth. After 4-5 months, the baby needs supplementary food beside breast milk.
The baby cannot take the food properly up to the age of two years and breast milk is the proper nutrition and it protects from malnutrition and some infection. Therefore, breast feeding is necessary to the infants up to the age of two years.
Care should be taken on the following points while vaccinating infants: