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Pregnancy checkups for healthier babies

Written by Staff reporter
To ensure healthier moms and babies, the Department of Health recently increased the number of free antenatal visits pregnant women can make to government hospitals and clinics from four to eight.
A pregnant woman who is examined by health care providers more often is likely to have an easier pregnancy, and give birth to a healthier, stronger baby.

For this reason the Department of Health recently raised the number of free antenatal visits women can make to government clinics during the course of their pregnancies from four to eight.

Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi has encouraged pregnant women to make use of the extra visits. They will allow medical professionals to detect and treat health problems and screen for other problems that may arise. This is especially true for first-time mothers.

“We hope through these additional antenatal care visits, pregnant women will be also able to receive regular blood pressure testing, urine testing, monitoring of the baby’s growth and movements for safe pregnancies and healthy babies because any delays may lead to avoidable deaths,” the Minister said.

Why are antenatal visits important?

  • Women who think they are pregnant should visit a clinic or doctor as soon as possible to begin antenatal care. Early visits to the clinic, and going to all your antenatal care appointments, will ensure you have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby.
  • The first visit will include a blood pressure check, weight check, providing a urine sample, testing for sexually transmitted infections and checking for TB.
  • The next visits will include blood tests, an ultrasound and counselling. Nurses and social workers will be there to answer questions about your pregnancy.
  • The mother’s partner, friend or family member should go with her to every antenatal visit. It is important that the mother has someone she trusts to support her during the pregnancy, the labour, and after the birth. This support is very important for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Schedule of care visits

The eight visits should be made in these weeks of the pregnancy:

  • First visit: week 14
  • Second visit: week 20
  • Third visit: week 26
  • Fourth visit: week 30
  • Fifth visit: week 34
  • Sixth visit: week 36
  • Seventh visit: week 38
  • Eighth visit: week 40

Why eight visits?

  • Regular blood pressure and urine testing
  • More frequent monitoring of your baby’s development
  • Early detection and timely treatment of any complications
  • Will allow for HIV testing. If you are HIV positive, the visits will help you adhere to antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, to keep you healthy and prevent infecting the baby with HIV.

MomConnect

Get access to vital services and information quickly (Department of Health)MomConnect, a mobile app for pregnant women, helps reduce maternal and infant deaths. MomConnect gives more than a million pregnant women and new mothers access to vital services and health information.

MomConnect has three objectives:

  • Registering each pregnancy at a government health facility.
  • Sending personalised SMSs to moms based on their needs. Messages will be in the appointment reminders or information to help take better care of herself and her baby.
  • Making the healthcare system more accessible to women.