News

Supporting mothers for a healthy start

May 2014

Making sure we help women have a healthy start to motherhood is one of the best ways to recognise our mums on Mothers Day, says Gravida: National Centre for Growth & Development.

Supporting our mums by cooking and sharing nutritious food or taking a family walk, not only this Sunday but every day while she's pregnant or nursing and caring for our children/tamariki shows how much you care about her health. It helps to reduce her risks of pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, blood pressure issues and allergies, which in turn helps to reduce the risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) later in life that can result when pregnancy complications occur.

The American Heart Association for example, recommends women who suffer pre-eclampsia should be monitored later in life for stroke and blood pressure issues (see further information here) and in gestational diabetes is regularly followed up by GPs and specialists in case it leads to further ill health (see further information here).

The good health of a mother is also inextricably linked to the health of her baby, says Gravida Director Professor Phil Baker. ''What science shows us today is that the pre-conditions for non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity can be set during these pre-conception, pregnancy and developmental years and can be directly influenced by factors such as nutrition, breastfeeding and physical activity. This is in part through changes in gene activity and the influence is so strong, it has even been shown to be passed through generations in a family. Ensuring mums have access to the best nutrition and support possible is therefore vital.”

"What science makes clear is just how important doing our best to care for new mothers is - for her own emotional and physical health, as she takes on the life-long role of caregiver for her family and whanau - and for a developing child.“

''At Gravida we're committed to undertaking research and translating it into clinical and public health interventions in our hospitals and in our communities that ensure our women and children get a healthy start to life. This Mother's Day we want to recognise the invaluable role mothers play in our society.''

Gravida is currently supporting has a number of clinical trials in maternity and newborn units in hospitals and clinics and is part-way through developing a new maternity and child health care professional development programme based on updated nutrition, breastfeeding and physical activity research, called the Healthy Start Workforce Project. This project is being developed in partnership with the NZ College of Midwives, Plunket, Tipu Ora and the Heart Foundation.

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