Knowledge Base and Clinical Skills

A broad base of knowledge and skills (see below) is needed for the delivery of basic nutrition services in support of pregnancy and lactation. Encouraging all health care providers to develop this core of knowledge and skills will facilitate the delivery of consistent, effective nutrition services.

The focus of such knowledge and skills should be on the early identification of complex nutritional problems, treatment and monitoring of patients, and appropriate referrals. More detail can be found in Nutrition During Pregnancy and Lactation: An Implementation Guide.6

Knowledge and Understanding
  • The effects of pregnancy and lactation on recommended nutrient intakes.

  • Appropriate ways to increase dietary intake of nutrients.

  • Guidelines for nutrient supplementation.

  • How restricting the intake of basic food groups affects nutrient intake.

  • Recommendations for weight change during pregnancy and lactation and their rationale.

  • Principles and techniques of healthful weight management.

  • Benefits offered by federally funded food assistance programs for low-income women (see Chart 3-2) and by other community resources, as well as procedures for accessing those resources.

  • The techniques of breastfeeding and methods for overcoming common obstacles to successful breastfeeding.

  • Basic dietary adjustments for problems that often occur during and after pregnancy.

Assessment Skills
  • Accurately measure height and weight.

  • Classify women by nonpregnant body mass index.

  • Provide basic assessment of dietary practices.

  • Interpret information from the patient's history (including diet), laboratory data, and physical examination, and use it to identify women at high risk for nutrition problems before, during, and after pregnancy.

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