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Feed the children well

Pre-natal employees learning to help

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Dec 14/01) - It's imperative that mothers feed their children healthy foods and mothers-to-be get plenty of nutrients.

Cooking and preparing nutritious snacks was one of the focal points of a four-day, pre-natal training session in Fort Simpson last week.

NNSL Photo

Rice pudding and corn bread, as displayed by Dee-Dee Hardisty, left, and Lorraine Vital, were on the menu at a regional pre-natal training session in Fort Simpson last week. - Derek Neary/NNSL photo

Six community representatives not only talked about healthy snacks, such as dry meat, bannock and juice, but also made themselves busy in the kitchen. On Wednesday they prepared fish chowder, corn bread and rice pudding with raisins.

"It's a program that will enhance nutrition in the home," said Dee-Dee Hardisty, community health representative in Fort Liard.

She said women in their child-bearing years are invited to attend cooking circles, or pre-natal employees can visit them in their homes if they prefer.

Either way, pre- and post-natal women have the opportunity to learn more about healthy recipes and the vitamins and minerals they and their children require.

Pre-natal employees can also assist women who have little cooking experience, or those who can't read from a cookbook, prepare meals that include the four food groups, said Hardisty.

Of course, cooking is only one aspect of pre-natal programs. The community representatives also discussed breast feeding, resources and creating a higher profile in the community.

Lynn Wharton, pre-natal co-ordinator in Fort Simpson, pointed out that although all communities have access to pre-natal funding, the programs tend to wane when there are few births or pregnancies in the region's smaller communities.

Jill Christensen, regional nutritionists for Canadian Pre-natal Programs (CPNP), said finding a suitable location in each community is also a challenge. A building with office space and a kitchen is a must, she noted. Furthermore, pre-natal employees have to contend with issues such as transportation and child care for mothers who attend the programs. Timing is also important, as nobody wants to try to compete with bingo, the participants agreed. "You want to be able to find a time when women can come and cook and not have to rush off," Wharton explained.

Women often achieve a better understanding of parenting through being together and sharing their experiences, Christensen said.