A healthy diet during pregnancy is important for both the mother and the development and growth of the unborn baby. Good nutrition during pregnancy and in early childhood helps prepare for healthy adulthood and can reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease and some cancers.
What is ‘Healthy Start’?
‘Healthy Start’ is a statutory Government programme which replaced the previous welfare food scheme and is designed to provide financial help to improve nutrition of families receiving certain benefits and mothers under 18 years of age. Qualifying pregnant women and families with young children are provided with vouchers which can be used to buy milk, fresh fruit and vegetables and infant formula.
What do qualifying families get?
- If you are at least 10 weeks pregnant you get 1 voucher a week worth £3.10
- For each baby under the age of 1 you get 2 vouchers a week worth £6.20
- For each child over the age of 1 and under 4 you get 1 voucher a week worth £3.10
- You will also received vouchers for free maternal supplements and/or child vitamin drops
What are the vitamins?
The supplements contain the exact level of vitamins as recommended by the Department of Health.
During pregnancy you need certain vitamins such as folic acid and vitamin D. Very few foods contain vitamin D – this is why sunshine is important because you make vitamin D in your skin when you are outside in the Sun.
Folic acid is also very important before and during early pregnancy. All women who might get Pregnant should take a supplement of folic acid as it hard to get enough from food.
Children from 6 months up until their 4th birthday are given vitamins which contain vitamins A, C and D. This is important as children may not be getting enough vitamins from their food, particularly if they are picky or fussy eaters.
Why are vitamins important?
- Vitamin A: helps with growth, eyesight and healthy skin, and also helps to strengthen the immune system.
- Vitamin C: helps the body to absorb iron and helps to maintain a healthy immune system.
- Vitamin D: is important for all pregnant and breastfeeding mums and is needed for the absorption of calcium from the diet for strong bones and teeth for mothers and babies. Adequate vitamin D supply in both mother and baby will help prevent the development of rickets in children.
- Folic acid: can help prevent birth defects, known as neural tube defects, such a spina bifida. Folic acid is also important for cell formation, especially red blood cells.
How do I sign up?
Families receiving certain benefits such as income support, job seekers allowance or child tax credit can check if you are eligible here Do I Qualify?
Already registered for the national Healthy Start scheme?
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For advice on a wide range of topics including health and wellbeing visit parentinfo.org
Information on nutrition and diet can be found on the Healthy Start website at healthystart.nhs.uk.
Foodkirklees.org.uk also provides information on eating well and gives information on what is available locally