Through to 2: a story of a healthy birth
There has been no rainfall for months. Every 200 metres are dead animals. These are no conditions for mums-to-be. But Nasibo is six months pregnant.
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Seeing ‘Through to 2’ everywhere? Wondering what it’s all about? Here’s a Q&A with everything you need to know about this fantastic cause.
The first two years of a child’s life is a critical time – it is this period that maps out how a child is going to develop both physically and mentally. British medical journal The Lancet in 2008 confirmed that if a child does not have adequate nutrition in the period between conception and through to 2, the damage is irreversible.
If a mum doesn’t have enough to eat during pregnancy, it can lead to dangerous low birth weight and poor growth in their children. Moreover, it’s often the children that suffer the most or die when food is scarce due to poor harvest. Undernourished children are more at risk of contracting other life-threatening illnesses such as diarrhoea, malaria, HIV or AIDS. They are more likely to be stunted in stature and in brain development, leading to lower educational performance and economic productivity.
Nearly half of child deaths worldwide link to malnutrition.
The first two years are a window of opportunity to help babies grow big and strong so they can survive. It’s the critical stage in which a child’s future is formed. You can help give babies and children the building blocks of a healthy life and future by ensuring children living in extreme poverty get the proper food and care they need to survive and thrive.
During pregnancy, a baby gets all the nutrients they need for healthy growth and brain development from his or her mother. A healthy diet for a mother during pregnancy means a healthy diet for her baby too and helps to ensure that a baby is born at healthy weight.
Breastfeeding – initiated within an hour of birth - provides a baby with the best start in life. Breastmilk is a superfood for babies containing all the nutrients and vital ingredients they need in their first 6 months for their brains and bodies, but also protecting them from illness, infection and disease.
At 6 months, a baby’s nutritional needs increase to support their growth and development and they require nutrient-rich whole foods in addition to breastmilk. During this period, it is important for mothers not just to think about what they feed their babies to meet their nutritional requirements, but also how they feed them so that they develop healthy eating practices. Babies and infants may also need vitamin and mineral supplements or fortified foods if they are not getting what they need from their diet.
Babies will then be starting to crawl and walk. These are big development milestones!
The eight building blocks represent the important ways in which Concern provides children in extreme poverty with the nutrition and care they need to reach their development milestones during those special first two years of life. The building blocks include: