Antenatal care is the care given to pregnant women by healthcare providers. Antenatal care is also known as maternity care or pregnancy care. Antenatal care is given by a doctor who’s specialized in pregnancy and birth also known as an obstetrician or sometimes a midwife.
Pregnant women should start their antenatal care clinic as soon as they know they are pregnant. Antenatal care is the care given to pregnant women to ensure they and their unborn babies are well.
During antenatal care appointments, the doctor or midwife will check the health of the mother and their unborn baby, discuss suitable choices of care during pregnancy, labor, and birth. In addition, the doctor will give information to help the mother have a healthy pregnancy and answer any questions the mother may have.
Through antenatal care, the health of the mother and the baby is protected. Antenatal care is a form of preventive care. During antenatal clinics, skilled health personnel educate mothers on understanding warning signs during pregnancy and birth, healthy behaviors, and give emotional, social, and psychological support.
Antenatal care is important as it helps mothers to access immunization against tetanus, micronutrient supplementation, and treatment for hypertension to avoid eclampsia. Through antenatal care, HIV testing and medications are given to prevent the transmission of the virus to the baby.
Pregnant women in areas with high cases of malaria are offered medications and mosquito nets treated with insecticide to protect them from malaria which is a deadly disease. access to antenatal care helps women to get important health services that are crucial to their health and that of their children.
according to World Health Organization, mothers are advised to attend a minimum of 8 antenatal appointments to reduce the rate of perinatal mortality. In addition, by attending these 8 antenatal appointments mothers can experience improved care.
However, a lot of women are yet to meet this recommendation. some can only attend 4 appointments which were previously recommended. Women who receive only 4 antenatal appointments are more than those who receive 8 appointments.
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The main purpose of antenatal care is to ensure the pregnancy is safe for the mother and that no harm may stop the baby from developing into a healthy baby. Antenatal care appointments give doctors room to offer health education to mothers and their relationship partners.
Aims of antenatal care are achieved by:
Here are some of the reasons why antenatal care is important:
Doctors can also prescribe minerals and vitamins that are needed for the healthy growth of the baby. Supplements such as folic acid, iron, calcium, fish oil, and multivitamins are very important for mothers.
It is very easy to start antenatal care visits once you discover you are pregnant. It is important to start antenatal care as soon as possible to have a healthy pregnancy. Thalassemia and sickle cell anemia should be done before the mother is 10 weeks pregnant.
A midwife or Obstetrician should be involved in one’s pregnancy especially if the mother has special needs. It is important to let the doctor know if one has special requirements for either antenatal or labor.
For first-time mothers, it is recommended that they attend up to 10 antenatal appointments. Those who had a baby before will need to attend 7 antenatal care appointments. However, those who develop medical conditions may have to attend more visits.
In the beginning, mothers are given written information about the number of appointments they will need to attend and when they will be. If possible, it is important to discuss your antenatal schedule with your doctor. In case you are not able to attend an appointment, talk to your doctor to reschedule it.
Antenatal care appointments can take place at a hospital, at home, at a children’s center, and during a GP surgery. Pregnancy scans are done at the hospital. Antenatal care appointments should be done where one feels comfortable and safe to discuss matters such as sexual abuse, drug problems, health problems, sexual or domestic abuse.
To get the best pregnancy care, the doctor or midwife will ask the following questions:
During antenatal care visits, mothers can discuss with their doctor in case they need extra support or if they are vulnerable probably due to female genital mutilation or domestic violence.
Antenatal care appointments are more frequent after 24 weeks. Mothers with complications and health conditions are seen more frequently than those without because they need to be monitored closely.
later antenatal care appointments involve:
During these visits, mothers are informed about;
Antenatal care is the care given to pregnant women by healthcare providers. It is important for pregnant women to receive antenatal care to ensure they are okay as well as their unborn child.
Antenatal care helps protect the health of the mother and that of the unborn baby to ensure safe pregnancy and delivery.