• Newly Signed Law Provides Support for New Moms During Their Baby's First 1,000 Days

    Every child will receive proper care and nutrition for their 1,000 days of life.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Newly Signed Law Provides Support for New Moms During Their Baby's First 1,000 Days
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Here’s your good news for the day. According to Save the Children, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping and protecting Filipino kids, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law RA 1148 or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act.

    The law ensures that every child in the country receives the proper care and nutrition during their ‘first 1,000 days’ of life. It includes providing nutrition programs and support before, during, and after a mother gives birth; providing nutrition programs and support for the baby; training for barangay health workers; and supporting and training mothers on how to ensure her and her child’s health and nutrition.

    The first 1,000 days of life has a lifelong impact on a baby’s brain

    In 2008, The Lancet medical journal published a series of papers on maternal and child undernutrition. It identified a critical window of time between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday or  “the first 1,000 days of life.”

    The count starts the moment you conceive your baby until the second year of your child’s life. The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), our own Department of Health, and the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) all underline the importance of the first 1,000 days.

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    According to PPS, nutritional damage during this period of rapid brain development is irreversible and has long-term effects on a baby’s cognitive growth. The state of your baby’s brain development at 2 years old will determine his mental capacity for the rest of his life, including success in schooling and even the income he earns in the future.

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    “Experts have found that those who have good nutrition early on in life are able to overcome more life-threatening diseases,” shared Noelle Polack, a birth and postpartum doula, at the “Smart Parenting Baby Shower” back in April. “They are able to cope better in school — they are smarter, they become higher paid, and they’re more likely as adults to have healthier families.”

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    Prenatal care can affect your child’s brain development

    For a heathy pregnancy, PPS recommends all Pinay pregnant women to take an iron-folate-calcium multi-micronutrients supplement.

    Folic acid reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia and serious birth defects like spina bifida. Calcium aids in the baby's bone growth, while iron prevents anemia and low birth weight. Iodine is also essential for healthy brain development in the fetus and young child.

    To make sure your pregnancy is going well, it’s also important to have regular checkups with your doctor. Pregnant women should at least visit the doctor four times (before the fourth month, during the sixth, eighth, and ninth month) if their pregnancy is normal or uncomplicated.

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    Breastfeeding and Unang Yakap are essential to a baby’s first years

    The first 1,000 days emphasizes the importance of early initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of delivery, which reduces the risk of infant death by 22%, according to the WHO. It is part of the Unang Yakap protocol.

    “The baby is dried then diretso na sa skin mo. Hindi kayo dapat paghihiwalayin,” said Polack. “Delayed cord clamping is also important so that the baby has a good supply of blood and can do breastfeeding behaviors more easily.”

    WHO and PPS recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months followed by complementary feeding or introducing nutritious solid food at the right age while continuing to breastfeed. (Find a guide here.) Nursing exclusively for six months may seem daunting, so Polack advises moms to read up on the benefits of breastfeeding and find one that motivates them the most.

    “On those days na pagod na pagod ka na at tinitignan mo ‘yung baby mo at nag-wo-wonder ka, ‘Bakit ko ba ‘to ginagawa?’ You’ll need to hold on to that benefit and use it as a motivation,” she shares.

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