5.2.5 Preventing iron and folate deficiency
Pre-existing anaemia can be aggravated by the effects of maternal blood loss and is one of the major contributors to maternal mortality in the postnatal period. Encourage mothers to eat foods rich in iron (e.g. dark green leafy vegetables, beans, peas and lentils, poultry and red meat, organ meats such as liver and kidney, and whole grain products), and foods which enhance iron absorption (fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C). Tell her to take one tablet containing 60 mg of iron and 400 micrograms of folate (folic acid) every day for three months after the birth, and give her a three months’ supply. (In some places you may have separate iron and folate tablets, but the dosage is the same.) Advise her to store the tablets safely where children cannot easily find them.
Good routine postnatal care for the mother includes counselling her about her nutritional needs. What will you advise her?
That she needs to begin drinking and eating in the first few hours after the birth; that breastfeeding means she will need to eat more (especially high protein foods); if she is in an area where goitre is common, encouraging her to use iodised salt; explaining to her the value of vegetables and other foods which are rich in vitamin A, iron or folate.