Dr Chuka Agunwa of University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, has stressed the importance of Ante Natal Care (ANC) to pregnant women, saying “it is during ANC clinics that perceived dangers during pregnancy will be detected.”
He made this known in an interview with newsmen.
He defined ANC as systematic care given to pregnant women during pregnancy to monitor the progress of foetal growths and ascertain the well-being of the mother and the foetus.
Agunwa, a Consultant Public Health Physician, said: “ANC is a checkup on pregnant women at intervals to ascertain the health of the unborn child and the mother.”
He urged pregnant women to endeavour to go for antenatal, noted that it was during ANC clinics that doctors, after proper examination and investigation, would be able to identify complications such as anaemia pre-eclampsia and hypertension in such pregnant women.
He explained that “ANC allows timely management of complications through referral to appropriate facilities for further treatment.
“It also provides an opportunity to prepare a birth plan and to identify the facility for delivery in case of complications.”
He said that the service was highly beneficial to both the mother and the unborn child and promotes maternal and newborn health by reducing the risks faced by women during pregnancy and childbirth.
He said that pregnant women who go for antenatal were given iron/folate supplements to prevent anaemia, tetanus toxoid immunisation to prevent maternal and neonatal tetanus and encouraged to sleep under Insecticide-Treated Nets (ITNs).
He added that such care was to prevent complications and for safe delivery.
Dr Emeihe Ebube, who works at Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, also told NAN that “The overall purpose of ANC is to optimise the outcome of pregnancy for the mother, her child and the rest of the family.”
He explained that parental care, also known as focused ANC, is a type of preventive healthcare with the goal of providing regular check-ups.
Ebube said the check-up would allow doctors or midwives to treat and prevent potential problems throughout the pregnancy while promoting a healthy lifestyle that benefits both mother and child.
“Focused ANC would prevent, detect and manage those factors that adversely affect the health of mother and baby and provide advice, reassurance, education and support for the woman and her family.
“Fathers can also contribute to focused ANC by providing financial support; help the woman to make a birth plan, accompany her to the health facility during ANC and during childbirth.”