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Nutrition Training Saves the Lives of New Mothers

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WRITTEN BY Shannon Deppi

After fleeing violence in South Sudan as a refugee, Sharon found herself about to begin another life-changing journey: becoming a new mother.

And although Sharon’s pregnancy was filled with all the joy and excitement that comes with bringing a new life into the world, dangers abounded, too. Living in extreme poverty in the Palabek Refugee Settlement in Uganda, food insecurity is a real threat. Many women, children, and families struggle to eat at all, let alone a well-balanced diet.

New mothers and little ones suffer most in such circumstances. Sharon’s own mother, Alice, miscarried a baby earlier in the year herself.

Making matters even worse: Sharon and her mom also lacked an understanding of the importance nutrition plays in supporting a healthy pregnancy.

As a result, they focused entirely on satisfying their hunger, unaware of the nutritional deficiencies in their diet or how to address them. And not long into Sharon’s first trimester, she began to lose weight at a frightening pace. 15 pounds disappeared in a matter of weeks. She also became anemic.

Thank God, her mother Alice received life-saving training in the nick of time.

Alice participating in a cascade group where she has gained knowledge and training to care for new mothers, women, and children in her community.

Nutrition for New Mothers 101

In partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Food for the Hungry (FH) serves new mothers and children in Sharon and Alice’s camp by providing nutrition services and support. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of this work is education, as Sharon’s story illustrates.

When Alice joined the “Nutrition During Pregnancy” training, she learned a wide variety of valuable information about the dietary needs of a new mom and her baby. Just a handful of the important lessons she learned in class include:

  • Supplementing key micro-nutrients, like iron, folic acid, and other prenatal vitamins
  • Danger signs of malnutrition during pregnancy
  • The benefits of prenatal doctor visits
  • The importance of eating a diverse, well-balanced diet
  • A list of vitamin-rich food options to support a healthy pregnancy

Alice’s training, supported in part by generous FH donors, included showing her how to pass the valuable information to other women in her refugee community. She was glad to honor the request, even before she realized there would be an opportunity to pass on this life-saving information within her own household.

Alice and Sharon continue to gain knowledge they can share with others in their community.

A New Mother’s Life Saved

When Sharon became pregnant and started losing weight, Alice knew just what to do. Her nutrition training kicked in. She began to encourage her daughter to supplement her diet with iron and folic acid. She also helped Sharon to eat from more than five food groups to balance her diet with other essential micro-nutrients.

This valuable instruction from Alice, in combination with the support of a prenatal care team, gave Sharon all the tools she needed to bounce back to health for her and her baby. After just three weeks, not only did this new mother regain all the weight she’d lost, but she also started putting more weight on.

FH staff member visits Alice and Sharon.

A Grateful Mom- and Grandma-to-Be

Alice believes, without question, that the FH nutrition training made the difference for Sharon and her unborn child.

“It’s like the training was specifically designed for me,” she says with a smile. “Because I was empowered with lifesaving skills, which I did not know at one time, I saved my own daughter’s life.”

Today, Sharon is experiencing a healthy pregnancy. Alice is looking forward to becoming a loving grandmother. And many other new mothers and children in their community are reaping the rewards of a well-balanced diet, too, due to support from FH Uganda staff, WFP and FH supporters.

As a result, this blessing will be passed on from friend-to-friend, neighbor-to-neighbor, and mother-to-daughter for generations.

Continue Reading

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