Expectant mothers should build a relationship with their local maternity unit early on so that they can receive antenatal pregnancy care. Paulette Muller, a midwife in the Macassar obstetric unit in Strand, says making an appointment at a local clinic should be one of the first entries on a pregnant woman’s to-do list.
This allows midwives to check the stage of pregnancy, determine any abnormalities in the foetus and conduct a full examination of the mother. The mother’s health is also assessed, her pregnancy journey monitored and education is provided which helps the expectant mother prepare for the safe delivery of her child.
“Early booking in pregnancy is key. We encourage all pregnant mothers to book with us as soon as they find out that they are pregnant. This prepares mothers mentally and physically.”
Midwives are community pillars
The world observed International Midwives Day on 5 May, a day to shine the spotlight on the role midwives play in a women’s pregnancy journey, explains Miriam Javan, a midwife at the Kraaifontein Hospital.
“As midwives, we do regular check-ups such as urine, blood pressure and infection tests. We conduct health education and inform expectant mothers about the dangers of smoking, and substance and alcohol abuse during pregnancy, which can harm the unborn baby. We examine any danger signs, hence the need to book early to ensure early detection.”
What to expect when you are attending Basic Antenatal Care (BANC):
- During the visit, your midwife will take a detailed medical history and family history as part of assessing your overall health.
- Your midwife will check your blood pressure, weight, and height. You will also be offered a blood test to check your blood group and whether you have anaemia, any infectious diseases, or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as checking whether you have rubella immunity. The midwife may suggest a urine test to see if you have a urinary tract infection (UTI).
- Your midwife will examine you to determine how far along you are in your pregnancy.
- Your midwife will give you information during this appointment to help you keep healthy and ensure you have good support and care.
- Pregnant mothers are given their next appointment date and must adhere to these appointments as these check-ups are important developmental milestones for the foetus and mother which must be monitored during these visits. The expectant mother is provided with follow-up appointments throughout her pregnancy to ensure that both mother and baby are healthy and that the foetus is reaching its developmental milestones.
Healthy eating a must
Pregnant mothers need to take care of their health for the benefit of themselves and the unborn child.
“We advise all mothers to eat healthy foods so that unborn babies can get all the nutrients they need to develop. Once babies are born, healthy eating also assists in producing quality breast milk,” says Sister Bernadette Wingrove, operational nursing manager at the Midwife Obstetric Units at Khayelitsha Site B.