Pregnancy is a natural process. It is inherent for women to be capable of this life-changing human function. Therefore, no one should die of pregnancy because the female anatomy is designed for it. However, due to multiple and relatively preventable factors, many women die because of pregnancy complications. If detected early, this could have not happened and childbirth becomes a positive experience for the family.
One of the major developmental goals of the Philippines is to reduce maternal mortality ratio by three quarters by 2015. In order to do this, pregnant woman’s survival and well-being must be maintained throughout the pregnancy. Since maternal mortality is a sensitive indicator of the quality of maternal well-being programs and policies, the government is very active in promoting pregnant women’s welfare now and encourage women to be more pro-active and vigilant of their health.
Here are the important prenatal guidelines and other important reminders for pregnant women:
- Antenatal Registration. Every pregnancy places a certain risk to a woman and her child’s life. Prenatal services are incorporated in every level of health care delivery system so that every woman is guided throughout pregnancy. At least 4 prenatal visits are recommended: 1st once pregnancy is suspected, 2nd during 2nd trimester, 3rd during 3rd trimester, and 4th after 8th month of pregnancy. During prenatal visits, pregnant women are being monitored whether their pregnancy are going as expected. In case of irregularities, referrals are made to promote prompt interventions to potential problems. It is also during prenatal visits that a woman is assisted in making birth plan. Birth plans contain what the woman wants when she starts feeling true labor pains.
- Tetanus Toxoid Immunization. Tetanus is a life-threatening bacterial disease to both the mother and the baby. Untreated tetanus contributes to an increasing maternal and infant mortality rate. Receiving this vaccine during pregnancy does not harm the baby. Pregnant women are advised to visit the nearest community health center to avail the vaccine and to strictly adhere to schedule of subsequent doses.
- Micronutrient Supplementation. Most important vitamins and minerals the pregnant woman should be taking are the following: Vitamin A, Iron, and Folate. Iron and Folate are necessary to prevent pathologic anemia in pregnant women. This will also facilitate adequate amount of red blood cells in the body for the health of the baby as well as prevents neural tube defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida. Vitamin A helps with fighting infection and fat metabolism. It also aids with tissue repair. Pregnant women should have adequate intake of green, leafy vegetables, fortified cereals, organ meats, milk, and eggs.
- Treatment of Diseases and Other Conditions. During the course of pregnancy, women may suffer from difficulty of breathing, losing of consciousness, intestinal parasitism, and malaria. These conditions could result to complications and may endanger both the mother’s and baby’s life. Pregnant women should have self tested for malaria and intestinal parasitism especially if living in an area where mentioned diseases are endemic.
- Clean and Safe Delivery. Clean delivery means giving birth in an environment that will not promote infection to both the mother and the baby. Safe delivery means availability of a skilled birth attendant who will facilitate birthing process. It also means being able to transfer high-risk pregnancies to a higher level of care. Pregnant women should ask about the followed delivery process of the birthing center where they are planning to give birth.
- Support to Breastfeeding. Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months are religiously encouraged to women who gave birth. Also, an extended period of up to 2 years is even more favorable. Massaging and continuous feeding stimulate the breast to produce and release breast milk. The sad fact is most mothers do not really know the importance of breastfeeding. Basically, breast milk contains antibodies that can be passed on to babies to strengthen their immune resistance. It is also economical, has the right temperature for the baby, does not upset their stomachs, and promotes bonding between the mother and the baby. Proper breastfeeding are offered by nurses to mothers upon delivery of the baby.
- Family Planning Counselling. The risk for developing complications increases as number of pregnancy increases. It is important the women of childbearing age are adequately informed about their reproductive health choices so recommended birth spacing is followed, bodies are allowed time to heal, and women are empowered to make active decisions about their reproductive health.
To achieve reduced maternal mortality rate, both the government and women of childbearing age should meet halfway and work hand in hand. Pregnant women should be given utmost importance and priority for they carry the next generation. Every pregnancy should be healthy and with these prenatal guidelines and reminders, new healthy lives can be welcome in this world.
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