Antenatal care is the routine health control of presumed healthy pregnant women without symptoms (screening), in order to diagnose diseases or complicating obstetric conditions without symptoms, and to provide information about lifestyle, pregnancy and delivery.
According to WHO, routine antenatal care (ANC) is defined as the care provided by health practitioners (or others) to all pregnant women to ensure the best health conditions for the women and their fetuses during pregnancy.
When pregnant, it is important to have regular check-ups with a midwife or doctor. These check-ups are called antenatal care or antenatal visits. Antenatal means before birth. A midwife specialises in caring for women during pregnancy, birth and after the birth.
WHO recommends that pregnant women should all receive at least eight antenatal visits to spot and treat problems and give immunization. Although antenatal care is important to improve the health of both mother and baby, many women do not receive eight visits.
Dr. Fatima Rahis of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, states that expectant mothers can know their status using the urine pregnancy stripes and recommended that a woman should register for antenatal care as soon as she finds out that she is pregnant.
Rahis says some of the risks women face when they don’t attend antenatal care are still birth, difficulty in labour, losing the child in womb because of complications, some expectant mothers don’t come to the hospital until they are about to bleed to death, a day after the child is already dead.
Rahis reiterates that once a woman comes to antenatal care at early stage, that is during the first trimester of the pregnancy, she can prevent pre-eclampsia, eclampsia and other pregnancy complications from occurring because she will be examined each time she visited.
She urged government and non-governmental organisations to do more in the health sector so that more women can have access to antenatal care.
Rukaiya Musa Hyera,
Department of Mass Communication,