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Maternal Mortality rate remains a concern

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By: Dr. Anjali Kumar

Attributing to the subsequent discrimination and ‘so-called’ low status of women in our country is one of the major factors directly linked with the poor health outcomes among women. While seeking women as major contributors to the society, their health poses a major area of concern for the nation. Women safety is one of the important aspects that needs to be discussed at priority.

In an endeavour to raise awareness on the importance of women’s health especially while attaining motherhood, India is the first country in the World to officially declare National Safe Motherhood Day.

According to WHO, it is estimated that of the total maternal deaths globally, 99% of them occur in developing countries, accounting to approx. 850 deaths per day.  India accounts for 20% of global maternal deaths with 56000 casualties annually, which is a serious matter of concern. Latest data also suggest that Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH) contributes to around 22% of the maternal mortality rate in India. It has been witnessed that the MMR is significantly higher in the rural/remote areas and poor socio economic background, especially those in the adolescent age bracket in comparison to women in the elder age bracket.

Many women who are expecting motherhood, find it worrisome as they manage not only their own health but also the health of their child. Attributing to hormonal changes, pregnancy itself takes a toll on the woman’s mental health, causing stress anxiety, depression, anger, mood swings, and during this phase it is quite important to take care of health. Everything, from nutrition and adequate sleep to medicines and mental health must be adequately monitored before, during and post natal period.

Nutrition and diet

In terms of nutrition, expecting moms should consume one additional meal per day during pregnancy. Milk and dairy products such as curd, buttermilk, and paneer, which are high in calcium, nutrients, and minerals, should be eaten. Consume fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies, which are high in minerals and iron.

Protein can be found in cereals, whole foods, and beans and lentils. Green veggies are high in iron and folic acid. In vegans, a handful (45 grammes) of nuts and at least two servings of daal meet the daily protein needs. Non-vegetarians can get enough protein, vitamins, and iron from meat, eggs, poultry, or seafood.

Early and timely screening

Every woman should have a minimum of four prenatal check-ups (ANC), which should include assessment for hypertension, diabetes, anemia, immunisation for expecting women- TT, Iron & Folic Acid, and calcium supplementation. Depending on the body condition, the doctor may prescribe medications, which should be strictly adhered to, throughout the gestation/pregnancy.

Regular antenatal check-ups are very important for making baby healthy as well as identify and reduce any risk to both mother and baby. It also gives chance for the mother to ask doctor about many issues or questions which she is unsure like aches and pains, the birth, feeding your baby or any other concerns. Mothers also get support and help regarding their lifestyle, mental health, dietary advice or help in quitting smoking or drinking alcohol.

Despite the fact that the worldwide MMR has dropped by at least 45% from 1990 to 2015, yet according to the WHO’s Sustainable Development Goal 2030, the target is to restrict the MMR to below 70 per 100000, live births.

(The author is Director, Obstetrics, and Gynaecology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram)

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