What is Mother-to-child transmission?
Our integrated services for women include malaria treatment, nutritional advice, PMTCT, and a safe delivery for HIV positive and negative women.
Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) is when an HIV-positive mother passes the virus to her child during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding. Each year around 1.5 million women living with HIV become pregnant, and without antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), there is a 15 to 45 percent chance that their child will also become infected. However, among mothers that take a regimen of ARVs for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), the risk of HIV transmission can be reduced to less than 5 percent.
Preventing mother-to-child transmission
UNAIDS advocate four key strategies for preventing mother-to-child transmission:
- Keeping women of reproductive age and their partners HIV-negative through reproductive health and HIV prevention services.
- Avoiding unwanted pregnancies among HIV-infected women and women at risk of HIV, through family planning and HIV testing and counselling services.
- Ensuring HIV testing of pregnant women and timely access to effective antiretroviral therapy, both for the health of HIV-infected mothers and for PMTCT, during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding.
- Better integration of HIV care, treatment and support for HIV-infected women and their families.
Malaria is an entirely preventable and treatable disease. The primary objective of treatment is to ensure a rapid and complete elimination of the Plasmodium parasite from the patient’s blood in order to prevent progression of uncomplicated malaria to severe disease or death, and to chronic infection that leads to malaria-related anaemia. From a public health perspective, treatment is meant to reduce transmission of the infection to others, by reducing the infectious reservoir and to prevent the emergence and spread of resistance to antimalarial medicines.
Nutritional Advice in Pregnancy
Pregnant women need to eat a nutritious diet to keep themselves and the developing baby healthy. The need for some nutrients increases during pregnancy, and folic acid and iodine supplements are recommended before and after conception. There is no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
Good nutrition during pregnancy can help to keep you and your developing baby healthy. The need for certain nutrients, such as iron, iodine and folate, is increased at this time.
A varied diet that includes the right amount of healthy foods from the five food groups generally provides our bodies with enough of each vitamin and mineral each day. However, pregnant women may need supplements of particular vitamins or minerals. Consult Marie Stopes Kenya before taking supplements and for more information.
Diet for a Healthy Pregnancy FAQs
Now that you’re a mum-to-be, it is important to eat well. This will make sure you get all the nutrients you and your developing baby need.
If you know you haven’t been eating as well as you could, it is even more important to start having nutritious, well-balanced meals. Your daily meals should include a variety of foods from the four main food groups shown:
- Fruits and vegetables. You can buy these fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced. Aim for at least five portions each day.
- Starchy food. These include bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Try to choose wholegrain options.
- Foods rich in protein. These include lean meat and chicken, fish, eggs and pulses (such as beans and lentils). Try to aim for at least two portions of fish a week, including of oily fish.
- Dairy foods. These include milk, cheese and yoghurt, which contain calcium.
Dairy products, along with sea fish and sea salt are all good sources of iodine. You need plenty of iodine in your diet to help your baby’s development.
Your body becomes more efficient when you’re pregnant, and makes even better use of the energy you get from your food. This means you don’t actually need any extra calories for the first six months of pregnancy. Then you only need about 200 extra calories per day for the last three months. Two hundred calories is equivalent to:
- a slice of wholemeal toast with a small can of baked beans
- a toasted pitta bread with two tablespoons of reduced-fat hummus
- a slice of malt loaf or fruit scone with butter or spread
- one slice of cheese on toast
Your appetite is your best guide of how much food you need to eat. You may find your appetite fluctuates throughout your pregnancy:
- In the first few weeks your appetite may fall away dramatically and you may not feel like eating proper meals, especially if you have nausea or sickness.
- During the middle part of your pregnancy your appetite may be the same as before you were pregnant or slightly increased.
- Towards the end of your pregnancy your appetite will probably increase. If you suffer from heartburn or a full feeling after eating you may find it helpful to have small, frequent meals.
The best rule to remember is to eat when you are hungry. Have a good balance of foods every day and you will gain weight steadily as your baby grows.
In an ideal world, free of morning sickness or food aversions, a balanced diet would be all you’d ever need. But an antenatal vitamin-mineral supplement may be good insurance to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients.
It’s recommended that you take two important supplements during your pregnancy:
- 400 micrograms (mcg) folic acid a day for the first 12 weeks
- 10mcg of vitamin D a day throughout your pregnancy
Later on in your pregnancy you may need to take an iron supplement. Your iron levels will be checked during your pregnancy, and your doctor or midwife will advise you about your needs. Calcium is also important while you’re pregnant, as you’ll now need twice as much each day.
You could take a special pregnancy multivitamin that contains folic acid, vitamin D, iron and calcium. Look for one that also contains vitamin C, vitamin D, B vitamins such as B6 and B12, potassium, zinc, iodine and vitamin E.
Don’t take any supplements which contain retinol, the animal form of vitamin A. In large quantities, this can be toxic to unborn babies. However, the plant-based carotene type of vitamin A is safe in pregnancy. Also don’t take megadoses of vitamins and minerals, as this could be harmful to your baby.
Talk to your doctor or midwife about special supplements you might need if you:
- are a strict vegetarian or vegan
- have diabetes or gestational diabetes
- have pre-eclampsia
- have anaemia
- have had a baby with a low birth weight before