Earlier this month, Scroll published this article calling for more support for women to help them successfully breastfeed their babies. This support includes not only compensation and time off of work, but also assistance in order to get adequate nutrition in pregnancy and after child birth.
It is very exciting to see r.i.c.e.’s research on maternal nutrition and India’s maternity entitlements program mentioned in the article, referred to as commonly known fact. For example, the article says that “Forty-two percent of Indian women are underweight during pregnancy,” a finding from Diane’s 2015 paper, Prepregnancy body mass and weight gain during pregnancy in India and sub-Saharan Africa. And in explaining the cash assistance benefit for pregnant women required by the NFSA, it states that “The cash can help them buy nutritional support through pregnancy and lactation.” This is a recommendation that Diane and Payal made in their 2016 article, Underweight and Pregnant: Designing Universal Maternity Entitlements to Improve Health, which suggests improvements in the structure of the NFSA’s maternity entitlement to address poor maternal nutrition.
The Scroll article also highlights how the 2016/17 national expansion of the maternity entitlements program actually promises less to pregnant women by adding on new restrictions. It is good to see this important issue getting coverage – there is no doubt that more conversation is needed to push for universal access to services that support mothers in taking care of themselves and their children in the critical months during pregnancy and after birth.