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This research work was designed to examine the awareness of good nutrition during pregnancy among women of child bearing age. Six (6) research questions were formulated and questionnaires were administered to one hundred (100) respondents in order to gather data for the research. Results showed that the pregnant women are aware of the importance of good nutrition to a child bearing mother. It was discovered that the level of education among child bearing age mother does affect their level of food intake in the area of study. The result also revealed that poor food intake can lead to malformation of the unborn child. Some recommendations were made by the researcher which includes the following: Health workers should embark on a proper sensitization of pregnant women on the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy.
1. Government should sponsor giggles that centers on the usefulness of good nutrition among child bearing age mothers during pregnancy.
2. Seminars and workshops should be organized regularly for the pregnant women to educate them on the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
All human beings need a balanced amount of nutrients for proper functioning of the body system. Nutrition is a fundamental pillar of human life, health and development throughout the entire life span (World Bank, 2006). Proper food and good nutrition are essential for survival, physical growth, mental development, performance and productivity, health and wellbeing. However, the nutrition requirement varies with respect to age, gender and during physiological changes such as pregnancy. Pregnancy is such a critical phase in a woman’s life, when the expecting mother needs optimal nutrients of superior qualities to support the developing fetus. Naturally, the urge to eat more is experienced by nearly all pregnant women.
Pregnancy is considered to be a delightful experience for the expectant mother. Evidences manifested that adequate intake of nutrition is a key component for individual’s health and well-being, particularly during pregnancy. It is well documented that inadequate maternal nutrition results in increased risks of short term consequences such as; Intra Uterine Growth Restriction(IUGR), low birth weight, preterm birth, prenatal and infant mortality and morbidity. Moreover, excessive intake of nutrients during pregnancy can lead to some pregnancy complications (such as, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, macrosomia, distocia and higher prevalence of cesarean section). On the other hand, as the long run outcomes, inadequate intake of nutrients were found to have pathophysiologic or metabolic depict that will appear as disorders of child growth and development as well as adult chronic disease after a long period of quiescence. (Rocco PL, Orbitello B, Perini L, Pera V, Ciano RP,2005)
According to Nagiebs (2003) opined that eating well during pregnancy means do more than simply increase how much the mother eats. The mother must also consider what she eats. The ability of mother to provide nutrients and oxygen for her baby is a critical factor for fetal health and its survival. Failure in supplying the adequate amount of nutrients to meet fetal demand can lead to fetal malnutrition. The fetus responds and adapts to under nutrition but by doing so it permanently alters the structure and function of the body. Maternal over nutrition also has long-lasting and detrimental effects on the health of the offspring.
Naomi M (2010) Malnutrition is one of the most serious health problems affecting children and their mothers in Ethiopia. Undernourished mothers face greater risks during pregnancy and childbirth, and their children set off on a weaker developmental path, both physically and mentally. Undernourished children have lower resistance to infection and are more likely to die from common childhood ailments as diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections. Those who survive may be locked into a vicious cycle of recurring sickness and faltering growth, often with irreversible damage to their cognitive and social development. Malnutrition prevents individuals and even the whole country from achieving full potential, and is closely related with survival, poverty and development. The incidence of dietary inadequacies as a result of dietary habits and patterns in pregnancy is higher during pregnancy than at any other stage of the life cycle. It was shown that, nutrition knowledge was predictive of change in dietary habits and health advices encouraged expectant women to advance their food intake positively.
Several studies including Villar has indicated that the correlation between poor maternal nutritional status and adverse birth outcomes is complex and are influenced by many biologic, socioeconomic, and demographic factors, which vary widely in different populations. It is therefore, the promotion of women’s health and other preventive health care practice should start before birth, during intrauterine life and extends throughout different phases of their lives in order to sustain their reproductive health in general. The importance of maternal nutrition during pregnancy has long been recognized. The National Academy of Science in America issued a report that reviewed studies of reproductive experience concluded that adequate prenatal nutrition was one of the most important environmental factors affecting the health of pregnant women and their babies. (Villar J, Merialdi M, Abalos E, Carroli G, et al., 2003)
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
According to UNICEF (2009), each year, more than half a million women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Nearly 4 million newborns die within 28 days of birth. Many of the 200 million women who become pregnant each year, most of them in developing countries, suffer from ongoing nutritional deficiencies repeated infections and the long term cumulative consequences of under nutrition during their own childhood years.
Many women suffer from a combination of chronic energy deficiency, poor weight gain in pregnancy, anemia, and other micronutrient deficiencies, as well as infections like HIV and malaria. Poor nutrition diminishes a woman’s productivity, causing repercussions for herself, her family, her community, and the broader society. Maternal malnutrition is influenced not only by lack of adequate nutrition but also influenced by factors like socio demographic factors, nutritional knowledge of mothers during pregnancies. It is on this ground that this research work investigate into the awareness of good nutrition during pregnancy among women of child bearing age.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
1. To assess the awareness of pregnant mothers with regard to nutrition in the pregnancy.
2. To investigate how good nutrition enhances pregnancy.
3. To find out if poor nutrition affects the unborn child and the mother.
4. To determine if lack of awareness of good nutrition by the mother have any effect on the feotus.
5. To identify the strategies to ensure good nutrition during pregnancy.
The following research questions were formulated by the researcher to guide the research study.
1. Are child bearing age mothers aware of the necessary food intake during pregnancy?
2. How does good nutrition enhance pregnancy among mothers of child bearing age women?
3. Does poor nutrition among child bearing age women affect the proper development of the unborn child?
4. Does lack of awareness of good nutrition by a child bearing age mother have any effect on her and the feotus?
5. What strategies should be put in place to ensure awareness of good nutrition during pregnancy for child bearing age mother?
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The benefits that could be derived from the outcome of this research work are as follows:
1. It will serve as a source of information and awareness to pregnant women on the type of food they should eat during pregnancy.
2. It will provide useful information for midwives and health care provider on how to educate the women on the type of food they should consume during pregnancy.
3. The result of the research work will also be important to health officials, ministry of health and the general public on how to take balance diet during pregnancy by a pregnant woman.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the awareness of good nutrition during pregnancy among women of child bearing age in Benin City, Edo State. The scope covers pregnant women in Edo State using Oredo Local Government Area as a case study.
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The researcher was faced by some limitations during the research work. The following were some of the limitations the researcher encountered:
1. Financial constraint
2. Limited time
3. Availability of materials
4. Non-access to relevant information etc.
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Knowledge: is awareness and understanding that one has gained on nutrition during pregnancy through learning and practice and pregnant women was considered to be knowledgeable if she correctly answered greater than or equal to 70% of the total knowledge assessing questions.
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