Don't delay antenatal care
CONSISTENT antenatal care is essential throughout pregnancy for both the expectant mother and baby to ensure any anomalies can be detected and rectified as soon as possible.
"The sooner the expectant mother seeks help, the better," says Dr Johan Moller, a gynaecologist at the Fourways Life Hospital in Gauteng.
"I myself had very little knowledge about the importance of antenatal visits. As a first-time expectant mother who led a healthy life, I thought that such visits were only for pregnant women who had health problems.
"I thought if I ate well and healthily and did a bit of exercise , everything would be okay. I thought that one needed to wait a while to start antenatal visits.
"When tragedy struck, it made me sit up and take note. A miscarriage at six-and-a-half weeks brought home the importance of starting antenatal visits as soon as a pregnancy is confirmed.
"I understand that some mothers are young and do not have medical aid or the finance for consultations and scans. They are indeed expensive, but they do offer them in public heath institutions too," Moller says.
It is very important for expectant women to visit a clinic or a medical practitioner, he says.
"There are two very important scans that must be done, one at 12-14 weeks and another at 18-20-weeks," Moller adds.
The first scan, called a dating scan, is an ultrasound examination which establishes how far the pregnancy is. It can also reveal other important information such as multiple births.
It may not be very accurate because it is done early in the pregnancy. The scan also shows the heart beat of the growing baby. The baby's size is measured, which will help to determine the expected delivery date.
The second scan is called an anomaly scan. This is a detailed ultrasound that takes a closer look at the growing baby and the expectant mother's womb. Abnormalities, particularly in the baby's head and spine can be detected.
The first antenatal visit can be exciting, yet stressful for the parents, especially the mother. The poking and prodding of the tummy, make some women feel uncomfortable . And the uncertainty of the results is bound to make any mom-to-be nervous.
Here are some helpful and credible websites for further reading and information:
- www.pregnancyweekbyweek.co.za; and
This article was first published in print on 13 August 2012