The purpose of antenatal care is to make pregnancy and childbirth a safe experience. Antenatal care makes sure that the mother is healthy throughout her pregnancy and faces labour in optimum state of health. It ensures a healthy mother and baby during pregnancy, through labour and childbirth.
The first visit to the antenatal care clinic should be in the first trimester of the pregnancy. The first trimester refers to the first 3 months of pregnancy. A woman should carry out a pregnancy test after she has missed 1 or 2 menstrual periods. And visits to the antenatal clinic should start as soon as her pregnancy test results come out positive.
There are some things that are important for a healthy pregnancy. It is very important to visit the antenatal clinic when pregnant. And it is best to start doing so in early pregnancy. If not, the pregnant woman would lose out on most of the care and monitoring.
Some reasons why antenatal care during pregnancy is very important
- To make sure that the pregnancy is in the right location. The womb (uterus) is the normal location for a baby to grow but sometimes it starts growing in abnormal locations. This can lead to serious complications.
- To check if the baby has any abnormalities.
- To get information on the woman’s state of health and past pregnancies. This will help in giving her the care that is best for her.
- To prevent and minimise chances of complications that occurred in previous pregnancies and childbirths from recurring.
- To educate her on diet, taking care of herself during pregnancy, the labour process, childbirth and early infancy.
- To identify pregnant women who are at higher risk of developing complications. Some of the complications include excessive bleeding during pregnancy or delivery, having stillbirths. These women are given extra attention.
- To prevent miscarriage from occurring in a woman who has had recurrent miscarriages.
- To manage complaints.
- To manage and treat pregnant women with health conditions (like hypertension, diabetes, renal disease, cardiovascular disease) so as to prevent complications and ensure that the woman and her baby go through the pregnancy and delivery safely.
- To treat infections in the pregnant woman so as to prevent the baby from being affected or infected.
- To screen the pregnant woman for diseases that could adversely affect her and her baby. She is usually screened for HIV, hepatitis B.
- To observe her throughout the course of her pregnancy.
- To confirm the date of delivery. This is helpful, especially in women who are not sure of the date of their last menstrual period.
Antenatal care should be attended by every pregnant woman as soon as pregnancy is confirmed. It reduces the number of deaths of mother and child that occur during pregnancy and labour.
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