OP-ED

Antenatal care: A must-attend by all pregnant women

We recommend all pregnant women attend a minimum of eight ANC contacts. We also advise the community to always be on the look and bring any pregnant women with any of these danger signs of

A Photo Collage of the article auhtors; Kyakunzire Innocent (L) & Lilian Nuwabaine (R) -Photo/DailyExpress

The International human rights law includes fundamental commitments of states to enable women and adolescent girls to survive pregnancy and childbirth as part of their enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights and living a life of dignity. The World Health Organization (WHO) envisions a world where “every pregnant woman and newborn receives
quality care throughout the pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period”. 

However, an estimated 810 women continue to die each day due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth mostly from preventable or treatable causes, such as infectious diseases and complications during or after pregnancy and childbirth. For every woman who dies of pregnancy-related causes, many more suffer from morbidity, disabilities and ill-health that can last a lifetime. Hence, all women and babies need access to affordable and high-quality care before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth. 

The WHO defines Antenatal care (ANC) as the care provided by skilled health-care professionals to pregnant women and adolescent girls in order to ensure the best health conditions for both mother and baby during pregnancy. Antenatal Care comprises of the following components: risk identification; prevention and management of pregnancy-related or concurrent diseases; and health education and health promotion.

Why should women attend Antenatal care?

  • Protects, promotes and maintains the health of a pregnant woman.
  • Detects high risk cases and give them special attention.
  • Removes anxiety associated with pregnancy.
  • Reduces maternal and infant morbidity and mortality
  • Health educates mothers and fathers about different components like nutrition, hygiene and childcare.
  • Attend to under five accompanying their mothers.
  • Confirms pregnancy.
  • Mother and provider make a birth plan.

When can one go for Antenatal care?

  • As soon as the mother suspects she is pregnant.
  • After one week or two missed periods.
  • After a mother confirms that she is pregnant.

In 2021, the WHO came up with the five clearly defined global and national targets and milestones that need to be achieved by 2025 if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be met. Globally, these are for: 

  • 90% pregnant women to attend four or more antenatal care visits (towards increasing to eight visits by 2030)
  • 90% births to be attended by skilled health personnel
  • 80% women who have just given birth to access postnatal care within two days of delivery
  • 60% of the population to have access to emergency obstetric care within two hours of travel time
  • 65% of women to be able to make informed and empowered decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use, and their reproductive health

Therefore, we recommend that every woman should visit a nearby health facility in case she suspects she is pregnant. We recommend all pregnant women attend a minimum of eight ANC contacts. We also advise the community to always be on the look and bring any pregnant women with any of these danger signs of vaginal bleeding, convulsions, severe vomiting, severe headaches and dizziness, severe abdominal pain, blurred vision among many others to a nearby health facility without any delays.

The authors are; Kyakunzire Innocent, an enrolled midwife working with Kisiizi Hospital, Kanungu District & Lilian Nuwabaine Luyima; BSc Nurse & MSN-Midwife & Women’s’ Health Specialist working with Aga Khan University as the CPD Coordinator & is the Heroes in Health Award Winner-Midwife of the year 2021

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