Pregnant? Good quality antenatal care ensures healthier moms and babies

by Tia

International Children’s Day took place on Saturday. To ensure healthy pregnancies, easier childbirth, and healthy babies, pregnant moms need to be proactive and ensure they receive professional, quality antenatal care and after childbirth, says Dr Victor Litlhakanyane, CEO of health NGO Right to Care. Antenatal care focuses on the care of pregnant women prior to birth.

“Effective healthcare before and after birth is crucial for ensuring the best possible outcomes for both babies and their mothers. Up to ten visits to your doctor or healthcare provider during your pregnancy are important so that the necessary screening, treatment and sonars can be done,” he said.

Screening for pregnant women is essential for identifying existing and pregnancy-induced clinical conditions like hypertension, gestational diabetes, and anaemia. Screening for HIV and syphilis supports early detection and treatment to prevent the transmission of these sexually transmitted infections from mother to child. HIV tests are performed during pregnancy as women can contract HIV while pregnant. 

Dr Litlhakanyane explains, “Prevention of transmission of HIV from mother to child is a key focus area for Right to Care. We recommend that HIV-positive women adhere to their antiretroviral treatment and achieve viral suppression before their pregnancy.”

Pregnant women also require medication to support healthy foetal development and reduce the risk of birth abnormalities with conditions like spinal cord development failure in spina bifida.

Two sonar scans, conducted during the first visit and at 36 weeks, are essential for providing valuable clinical data to guide decision-making for the mother and baby’s ongoing care and treatment.

“These services prioritise prevention to safeguard both expectant mothers and their infants,” adds Dr Litlhakanyane.

Dr Pretty Mashudu Mofokeng, GP at Right to Care’s Esizayo Clinic in Johannesburg’s Cosmo City, emphasises the importance of  proactive family planning, advising women to:

  • Know their family history, including any genetic factors or birth defects.
  • Understand their maternal history and previous pregnancies.
  • Stop smoking, alcohol consumption, or drug use.
  • Check the safety of any medications they are taking ahead of their pregnancy.
  • Know their HIV status, and if HIV positive, take their antiretroviral treatment until they are virally suppressed before having a baby.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet including fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Practice good oral hygiene.
  • Prioritize rest and relaxation.
  • Ask their nurse about prenatal vitamins.

Dr Litlhakanyane adds, “Right to Care’s Esizayo Clinic has received a generous donation which will see 120 women enjoy free professional antenatal services throughout their pregnancies.”

The R250 000 donation was made possible by ASI Financial Services and Right to Care which each contributed R100 000 and Dr Litlhakanyane, who personally contributed R50 000. Lesego Kgamphe, ASI’s Director: National Government Advisory says, “ASI’s long-standing relationship with Right to Care and our ongoing support for the Esizayo Clinic reflects the high standard of care provided by the clinic and its five-year track record of servicing the Cosmo City community. Our ongoing support for the clinic forms part of our commitment to SA’s National Health Insurance. We encourage other corporates  to support crucial healthcare projects.”

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