Early booking assists in detecting problems that may occur in pregnancy
This week we celebrated International Nurses Day and on 5 May we commemorated International Midwives Day. Midwives Day emphasises the very important role midwives play in a women’s pregnancy journey. All Western Cape Government Health and Wellness (WCGHW) Midwife Obstetric Units (MOUs) are run by trained and qualified midwives. MOUs are birthing units run by midwives in the community for clients accessing government healthcare facilities and are open 24 hours daily.
Pregnant mothers are encouraged to build a relationship with their local maternity unit as soon as they know they are pregnant, but it is advisable for them to book their first visit to the clinic as soon as they find out they are pregnant or before 20 weeks or as soon as possible thereafter to receive antenatal pregnancy care.
The importance of booking early allows our midwives to check the stage of pregnancy, determine any abnormalities in the foetus, provide a full examination of the mother and assessment of her health status, monitoring of her pregnancy journey, and provide prenatal education which forms part of the Department’s First 1000 Days childhood plan and preparing the expectant mother for safe delivery.
“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 says” Paulette Muller, Midwife, Macassar Obstetric Unit.
“As midwives, we do regular check-ups such as urine, blood pressure checks, 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” says Miriam Javan, Midwife, Kraaifontein Hospital.
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 at the MOU throughout her pregnancy to ensure that both mother and baby are healthy and that the foetus is reaching its developmental milestones.
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, MOU Operational Manager Nursing, Khayelitsha Site B MOU.
The First 1000 Days, a period from conception until a child’s second birthday offers an opportunity to ensure that a child develops and grows in the best possible way. An unborn baby draws nutrients from his or her mother and a supportive community and family will ensure that both mother and baby will thrive and remain healthy both mentally and physically.