Pregnant women and new mothers in Doncaster can benefit from free vitamin supplements.
A healthy diet is important to help support a healthy pregnancy and breastfeeding mothers – and vitamin supplements are a way of boosting good nutrition.
The scheme is simple and straightforward. Health visitors and midwives, who new mums and pregnant women see regularly, will give out the vitamins.
It is part of the national Healthy Start scheme which is means tested and gives eligible people food vouchers and free vitamins.
The Doncaster scheme – which is for vitamins only – is available to everyone and not means tested and it aims to support the health of all pregnant women and new mums (until their child’s first birthday).
It is hoped the scheme will make a real difference to the health of babies in Doncaster as good nutrition in pregnancy helps reduce a number of risks, including the risk of having a low birth weight baby.
Councillor Pat Knight cabinet member for Health said: “We are launching this scheme to support the health of pregnant women, new mothers and babies in Doncaster. It is easy to take part and the vitamins will make a real difference to the health of mothers and babies in our area.”
Director of Public Health Dr Tony Baxter said: “Even though most people can get all the vitamins they need by eating a healthy, balanced diet, there are certain times in your life when you may not be able to get everything you need from food alone – like when you are planning a pregnancy, when you are pregnant, when you are a new mum or if you are a small child.
“Making sure you have enough of some specific vitamins in pregnancy, like folic acid and vitamin D is important for your own health and for the development of your baby. Vitamins also offer valuable support to the health of breastfeeding mothers.”
Folic acid reduces the chances of a baby being born with a neural tube defect (NTD) such as spina bifida which is a birth defect where the spine doesn’t form properly.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, keeping bones healthy and helping to make sure the baby’s bones and teeth grow strong. Babies born with low levels of vitamin D can sometimes develop softened bones, which can lead to rickets. If a pregnant woman takes vitamin D during pregnancy it will ensure their baby has enough stored in their body for the first few months of their life.
Doncaster Council has commissioned Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) to deliver the scheme.
Christina Harrison, RDaSH Assistant Director, in charge of rolling out the initiative, said: “This is an excellent project and I encourage all pregnant women and new mums to use their free vitamin supplements. It will mean a healthy start not just for mums, but also the baby, and help keep mums healthy.”
If you are pregnant or a new mum and would like to receive the vitamins, or if you think you may be eligible for the voucher scheme, speak to your midwife or health visitor or ring 01302 796000 and ask for your area health visitor.