By Dr. Ramin Tavakoli Matin
Antenatal care is the routine health control of presumed healthy pregnant women without symptoms, in order to diagnose diseases or complicating obstetric conditions without symptoms, and to provide information about lifestyle, pregnancy and delivery.
Currently, the world health organization (WHO) recommends a minimum of eight antenatal visits and these are spread throughout the pregnancy. The visits are widely spread during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy (3 of the 8 visits are conducted during this period) and become more frequent during the last 12 weeks to enable closer monitoring of the mother and the unborn baby.
Antenatal care is aimed at Maintaining the health of the mother during pregnancy. This is through education about healthy lifestyle, maintenance of exercise, avoiding possible harmful substances, preventing the development of complications such as anemia through adequate supplementation with iron and deworming.
This medical routine is intended at identifying and treatment of diseases that may otherwise have gone undetected such as syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B; Identification of high risk cases and appropriate management. Such as mothers with diabetes, hypertension, HIV autoimmune diseases all of whom are at an increased risk of developing adverse pregnancy outcomes.
It is also aimed at offering psycho-social support to expectant mothers regarding the delivery process. Orient them about what is expected of them during the delivery process.
Antenatal routine tests are conducted to identify any potential hazards to the mother and unborn baby. The mother is also offered routine treatment which include; Supplementation with folic acid and Iron.
Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects in babies while Iron supplementation helps prevent anemia which would otherwise compromise the health of both the mother and the unborn baby. These supplements vary according to the stage of the pregnancy. Preventive medication is also given to prevent adverse outcomes. Preventive therapy with antimalarial and deworming medication, Tetanus toxoid and other treatments that may be found necessary depending on the clinical evaluation
Unfortunately, many women do not adhere to the ANC schedules and this results in delayed diagnosis of diseases which in turn results in poor outcomes for the mother and unborn baby.
In addition, many women falsely believe that antenatal should be delayed until a certain period has passed; this is a misconception as antenatal should be started as soon as a pregnancy is realized such that supplementation can begin early and any conditions that would pose a risk to the pregnancy are dealt with before they affect the pregnancy.
The Writer is a healthcare practitioner, specializing as Obstetrician and Gynecologist at UMC Victoria hospital.
The essence of Antenatal Care among expectant mothers
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