Antenatal care (ANC) is the care provided by a skilled health-care professional to pregnant women to ensure the best health conditions for both the mother and baby during pregnancy (WHO, 2016). It comprises identifying risks, preventing and managing pregnancy-related or existing diseases, health education and promotion.
Every pregnancy carries an inherent risk to either the mother, baby or both. Many pregnant women experience uneventful pregnancies, but up to 15% of pregnant women suffer a potentially life-threatening condition during pregnancy (WHO, 2016).
About 94% of the 990,000 women who become pregnant in Uganda attend the first antenatal care contact, but 65% of those that live in the urban centres and 58% of those living in the rural areas attend four or more antenatal care contacts (Shallon and Mugisha, 2020). Regardless of any other impediments, some of these women don’t understand why they should attend and probably complete all the antenatal care contacts.
Antenatal care aims to provide support for the pregnant woman and her family to ensure safe delivery and recovery (Dilly Anumba, 2016). Antenatal care objectives aim to accomplish the above assertion, and they are the reasons why you (pregnant woman) should attend every contact.
When you attend antenatal care, you get an opportunity to interact with the health-care workers who provide advice, reassurance, education, and support for you and your family. Among the issues that the health-care workers enlighten you on, include folic acid supplement, food hygiene, and lifestyle – this entails smoking cessation, recreational drug use and alcohol consumption (Dilly Anumba, 2016).
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The health-care workers address all the minor ailments of pregnancy that may keep you awake at night. These include abdominal discomfort, heartburn, backache, haemorrhoids, nausea and vomiting, and varicose veins (Dilly Anumba, 2016). Pre-existing maternal conditions like diabetes, heart disease and infection are screened, diagnosed, and managed. Health-care workers continue to screen for these and other diseases like HIV even when you tested negative during the first antenatal care contact, for as long as you attend the subsequent visits.
Health-care workers can promptly identify and treat any new medical or obstetric problems that arise in pregnancy, and, where possible, they can prevent these from adversely affecting your health and that of the baby (Dilly Anumba, 2016). It can, however, only happen if you attend all the antenatal care contacts.
Lastly, health-care workers plan for your labour and delivery, care of the new-born and future and reproductive health. In an uneventful pregnancy, delivery plans commence at 36 weeks of gestation. You achieve this level of care when you attend antenatal care to completion.
Today’s article serves as a platform to create and increase awareness among elite women – they may take ANC contacts for granted. They either end up booking late or skip some of the visits; as a result, they suffer catastrophes that health-care workers could have identified and dealt with or even prevented during the pregnancy period.
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