This National Nutrition Month envision better for moms and babies around the world

In honor of National Nutrition Month, 1,000 Days is kicking off its annual #March4Nutrition campaign to amplify the importance of improving health systems, policies and programs that support mothers and children to be healthy and nourished.

During the next four weeks, we invite you to follow #March4Nutrition on Facebook and Twitter and learn about the issues affecting mothers and their children, the work of 1,000 Days and our partners to ensure moms and babies are healthy and thriving, and how you can get involved!

This week we’re envisioning better for women before, during and after pregnancy

Supporting women’s health across the first 1,000 days – including preconception, prenatal, maternity, postpartum and pediatric care – is vital for women’s and children’s health.

Whether they are expecting a baby or not, ALL women and their families need comprehensive healthcare from a hospital, healthcare provider or community health center. Once a woman becomes pregnant, she also needs healthcare that includes nutrition education, folic acid supplements, maternity care, breastfeeding support (including counseling and supplies), as well as health screenings for conditions such as anemia, gestational diabetes and postpartum depression.

The Current Situation

In the U.S. and around the world, access to quality healthcare is vital to reducing the number of deaths related to childbirth. The United States has the worst rate of maternal deaths among wealthy countries, with an estimated 700-900 women dying each year from childbirth or pregnancy-related conditions. Even more troubling, women of color in America experience higher rates of maternal mortality. Many of these deaths can be prevented with better care before, during and after childbirth. In light of this, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently updated their recommendation that women receive an initial postpartum visit within 3 weeks of giving birth, followed by ongoing services and support tailored to each woman’s individual needs.

Globally, more than one billion women and girls do not have access to the adequate nutrition and healthy diets they need to survive and thrive – and they bear a significant portion of the malnutrition burden. WHO estimates that 830 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Improved nutrition can reduce some of the risks and complications that result in maternal mortality.

Quality health care plays a critical role in delivering nutrition services, like micronutrient supplements and nutrition counseling, to women at all stages of life, especially in the 1000-day window. Unfortunately, the cycle of malnutrition can be passed down from generation to generation, as malnourished women give birth to malnourished babies. By investing in improved nutrition in the first 1,000 days – beginning before babies are even born – women can lead healthier lives, have healthier pregnancies and give birth to healthier babies.

The Opportunity

1,000 Days is fighting to ensure ALL moms are able to receive the care they need to have a healthy first 1,000 days, no matter where they live in the world. We are advocating for policies that aim to protect comprehensive healthcare coverage for all women, to reduce maternal mortality and to increase investment in nutrition programs targeting women and girls worldwide.

In a world where moms have access to high-quality and comprehensive healthcare before, during and after pregnancy, fewer women will die unnecessarily, fewer children will be born pre-term and low-birth-weight and ultimately more women and children will be healthy and thriving. This is the world we want.