PREGNANCY: The Benefits of Antenatal Care

Antenatal care (also known as Prenatal care) refers to the regular clinical assessment of mother and fetus during pregnancy. It traditionally involves a number of routine visits approximately 12-16 for assessment of pregnant women before and during pregnancy.

When should you start?

Make your first visit to an antenatal clinic as soon as possible after a missed period. This will ensure that you have professional help whenever you need it.

The advantages of receiving regular antenatal care cannot be stressed enough. Antenatal care plays an important role to achieve a successful labour and delivery process.

Regular antenatal classes help in the physical and mental preparation of women and help them relax during those last months. Antenatal care ensures maternal foetal health wellbeing and also prepares women physically fit for labour, delivery and the postpartum period.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Woman Who Skipped Antenatal Care Delivers Severely Malformed Baby (Photo)

The main objectives of antenatal-care

  1. Maintenance of health of mother during pregnancy.
  2. Promote physical, mental and social well being of mother and child.
  3. Ensure delivery of a full term healthy baby.
  4. Early detection of high risk cases and minimize risks by taking appropriate management.
  5. Prevent development of complications through health education, adequate nutrition, exercise, vitamin intake and appropriate medical and pharmaceutical intervention.
  6. Screening for conditions and diseases such as anemia, STIs, HIV infection, mental health problems, and domestic violence.
  7. Teach the mother about child care, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene.
  8. Decrease maternal and infant mortality and morbidity.
  9. Remove the stress and worries of the mother regarding the delivery process.
  10. Provide safe delivery for mother and educate mother about the physiology of pregnancy and labor by demonstrations, charts and diagrams so that fear is removed and physiology improved.
  11. Advice family planning and motive the couple about the need of family planning.
  12. Predict possible problems during pregnancy and provide an appropriate treatment.
  13. Provide information on pregnancy and birth and discuss with the couple about the place, time and mode of the delivery provisionally and care of the newborn.
  14. Ensure continued medical surveillance and prophylaxis.
  15. Advice the mother about breast feeding, post natal care and immunization.
  16. Advice and support to the women and her family for developing healthy home behaviors.

READ ALSO: Heartbreaking! How Woman Lost Her Entire Set of Quintuplets in 24 Hours

Supplements

You will be prescribed a dose of folic acid everyday for the first three months of pregnancy. This meant to aid the proper development of the baby’s nervous system and to prevent a particular type of anaemia which occurs during pregnancy.To prevent anaemia, the doctor will recommend an iron supplement from the fourth month of pregnancy and ask you to continue it even after delivery when you will be feeding the baby. Besides iron, you will have to take some calcium and multivitamin supplements too since most women do not pay much attention to their diet.

Subsequent tests

Your blood will be tested to check haemoglobin levels at regular intervals. The doctor will do a second ultrasound scan in the 16th week to exclude any congenital anomaly of the baby and to also confirm the duration of pregnancy and growth of the baby. The third ultrasound scan will be around the 38th week to see the growth of the baby, position of the baby (normally it is head down position), condition of the placenta and position of the umbilical cord.

Immunisation

You will be given two doses of tetanus toxoid during the sixth and seventh months. If you have conceived within three years of your previous delivery, a single dose is enough.

Subsequent visits to the antenatal clinic

Your subsequent visits follow a regular routine unless you need to see your doctor more frequently for any problem. Visits are usually every four weeks until the 28th week of pregnancy. Thereafter, you will be asked to come every two weeks until the 36th week. And then every week till delivery. The patient is counselled about signs of labour and breast feeding.

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