- Birth defect,
- Infant mortality,
- Stunted growth,
- Kwashiorkor etc
are some of the health conditions that may affect a child whose mother fails to have the basic knowledge of pre and post natal nutritional requirements.
For a proper understanding of the nutritional requirement of a baby, it is important to be informed of the stages of growth of a child both in the womb and outside of the womb.
The growth of a child can be measured in terms of the following.
- Increase in cell number
That is the number of cells in the body of a child. The larger the number of cells the more the child grows.
2. Increase in cell size.
This is how big each cell has become. A child grows faster and healthier if the cells multiply adequately and all of them increase in size adequately.
This sounds a little scientific, humn? Never mind just read on
There are two major stages involved in the growth of a child
- Prenatal growth
- postnatal growth
These are the growth stages that occur in the womb, before a baby is born. They are of the following stages
- Germinal stage
- Embryonic stage
- fetal stage
The moment the sperm cell meets with the egg, the germinal stage begins. The growth of a child starts at the moment of conception. Just before a woman even realizes that she is pregnant. The germinal stage comprises the first 2 weeks after fertilization. It is a process of self-duplication and multiplication from single cells into tens of thousands of new cells.
The embryo implants itself in the womb of the mother. At this stage the embryo begins to differentiate into different specialized cells. These cells come together to form various tissues (e.g muscles). The tissues come together to form different organs (heart, lungs etc) and the organs work together to form the bodily systems.
By week 9, the process of differentiation and specialization into tissues, organs, and bodily systems is largely complete. Growth is rapid during this period, especially from week 20 of pregnancy.
After the baby is born, growth continues, these stages are called the post natal growth.
These are the growths that take place after a child is born. They are divided into the following stages;
- Early childhood
- Late childhood
This is the stage from birth to the time a baby stops taking breast milk and starts eating solid food. The first month of postnatal life is the neonatal period. This is the time of transition from the the womb to the outside environment.
Infancy stage is a stage that the fetus grows rapidly.
The musculoskeletal system, the nervous system and the brain grow more rapidly during the infancy stage.
This stage stimulates and facilitates cognitive development.
Therefore the stage of infancy is between the ages of `1 to 3.
THE EARLY CHILDHOOD
Ages 3 to 7 make up the early childhood. It is the stage of transitioning from breast feeding to the eating of solid food. At this age the baby has a very fast growth.
Every mother should ensure a proper feeding of their children at the early childhood.
Once you take breast feeding from your baby (weaning), growth slows down and picks up again not quite long after
Whatever meal replaces the breast milk goes a long way to make your child malnourished or nourished. CHOOSE THE RIGHT POST WEANING FOOD.
After a baby is weaned there is a deceleration of growth. At the 3 to about 7 years old there is rapid growth. The growth of a child can be facilitated or made stunted by whatever food replaces the mother’s breast milk.
This is the stage of the slowest growth. This is the age of 9 to 12.
AS A MOTHER THE BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF ADEQUATE PRE AND POST NATAL NUTRITION IS VERY ESSENTIAL