Melomed Articles

7 February 2020 - Dr. Siyanda Mlungisi Joshua  Zulu

The Importance Of Antenatal Classes

What is antenatal care?
Antenatal care, also called prenatal care is health care that is offered to pregnant women throughout pregnancy until the child is born. Its goal is to improve the health of pregnant women and to reduce deaths of babies.

 The importance of antenatal care
Antenatal care is beneficial for both mother and child. It's used to screen, diagnose, manage and control risk factors that might adversely affect pregnancy outcome. In developing countries particularly South Africa, the death of a pregnant women and her child remains a major challenge and is unacceptable high compared to first world countries

When to see your doctor
During your first antenatal visit and based on your risk factors you will be classified to either low risk or high risk, with
high risk pregnancies needing more frequent visits. But as a minimum and in low risk women, women should have their first visit in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy with subsequent visits at 20, 26, 30, 34, 38 and 40 weeks gestation. Recent evidence has shown that frequent antenatal visits with a health care provider is associated with better pregnancy outcome and a positive pregnancy experience. This is because of the increased opportunity to detect and manage potential complications. 

Antenatal care recommendations:
  • A minimum of 8 visits.
  • Counselling about healthy eating and nutrition and keeping physically active during pregnancy.
  • Daily oral iron, folic acid and calcium supplementation.
  • One ultrasound scan before 24 weeks gestation (early ultrasound) to estimate gestation age, detect any abnormalities with your unborn baby and check if you might be carrying multiple pregnancy like twins or triplets.
  • Advise about alcohol and smoking and these may adversely affect pregnancy.

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