The World Health Organization defines Antenatal Care, abbreviated as ANC, as “activities directed at screening for health and socio-economic conditions that are likely to increase the possibility of specific adverse pregnancy outcome, and providing therapeutic interventions;
It also points out ANC as one that entails educating pregnant woman and the partner about planning for safe birth or how to deal with emergencies during pregnancy.
From the above definition we get to ask ourselves, so what is the importance of ANC.
Enock Murunga, who works for Spin Ventures Group (SVG) Healthcare at Muthaiga, Nairobi, has had the privilege of walking this journey with many pregnant women.
The registered nurse and a midwife with 22 years’ experience highlights the importance of every pregnant woman undergoing ANC.
1. Screening and identification of conditions that may affect the health of the mother and baby
This is done through history taking, physical examination and investigations.
After identifying the socio-economic conditions, appropriate interventions are done.
These include preventive measures like vaccinations and prophylactic treatment.
Also treatment is given for sexually transmitted infections and other common but minor infections in pregnancy.
2. Promotion of health education
This is done through health education and counselling and planning for future pregnancies (family planning services),
Developing a birth plan and handling of emergencies that might occur during pregnancy.
Where to go for ANC
Murunga explains that it is so important that every pregnant woman chooses a health facility that is convenient for them to access, especially in case of an emergency.
They should also ascertain that the facility provides good care and is licensed by the Ministry of Health.
The Number of Visits For Successful ANC
The number of visits will depend on the individual mother’s needs after the initial evaluation.
The visits can be four to eight or more as per need.
The first visit should be during the first three months.
Remember to keep the record of the last normal menstrual period. This, experts explain, helps in calculating the expected date of delivery (EDD).
Avoid delays in making decisions to seek healthcare
Avoid delays in reaching health care facility