Primary aim of antenatal health care is to ensure that we have a healthy mother and healthy baby. In developing countries, women continue to die during pregnancy and childbirth. This is mainly because they do not receive advice and care during this period which is fraught with potential dangers which could be prevented or diagnosed and treated early.
Specific Objectives of Antenatal care are Reduction of maternal, infant and childhood mortality and morbidity; Promotion of reproductive health; Promotion of physical and psychological dev of child; Ultimate – Life long health
Antenatal care is provided with the intention of
1. Promoting, protecting and maintaining the health of the mother during pregnancy
2. Detecting high risk cases and give them special attention.
3. Foreseeing complications and prevent/ treat them
Visits to the doctors are advised once a month for first 7 months, twice a month during next months and then weekly. The minimum is 3 visits at 20, 32, 36 wks of pregnancy
When the pregnant mother goes to the doctor medical history is taken to ensure that she has no other medical problem, Physical examination is done and some important lab investigations are done to get the baseline regarding her haemoglobin, blood group, and some infections which may harm her and her baby. She will be given Folic acid tablets for the first three months and the Iron and folic acid tablets to ensure that she has appropriate haemoglobin level so much needed to have a safe pregnancy and delivery. She will be immunized against tetanus which protects the mother and the child. She also receives counseling on Family Planning, self care, delivery and parenthood. Home visits, Referral services are made if necessary.
There are some factors that predict a difficult delivery. These are called high risk factors. Some of these are - age above 34 years, Short stature, position of baby in the uterus, bleeding , high blood pressure, anemia, twins or more, previous death of babies during pregnancy or soon after delivery etc Doctors especially look out for these and take necessary action. Some of these could occur anytime during pregnancy and this is why proper care is needed throughout each pregnancy.