Pregnancy and antenatal care

Loice Vavi
Health Matters

Definition of antenatal


It is the care a woman receives throughout pregnancy and is important in helping to ensure a healthy pregnancy state and safe child birth.

When should one book for ANC?

As soon as the woman suspects that she is pregnant, she should go for booking or ANC.

ANC aims

To maintain the mother’s health and improve it during pregnancy.

To monitor progress of pregnancy in order to ensure maternal health and fetal development.

To detect deviations from normal and provide management and treatment to prevent development of complications through: Health education, adequate nutrition, exercise, vitamin intake, screening and appropriate medical and phamarceutical interventions.

To support and encourage family’s health psychological adjustment to child bearing.

Advice on parenthood either as a family or as an individual.

Building up a trusting relationship between the family and care givers which will encourage them to participate and make informed choices about the care they receive.

To ensure delivery of a full term and healthy baby.

Screening of conditions and diseases such as STIs, HIV and AIDS, malaria, diabetes mellitus, anemia, kidney failure, pregnant induced hypertension and mental illness .

To decrease maternal and infant morbidity and mortality

Counsel the family on family planning and its importance.

Promote breastfeeding and advice on preparation of lactation.

Dressing during pregnancy

Dressing make a big impact on how one feels during pregnancy. No matter what your style, it is important to feel comfortable in maternity clothing.

Wear loose-fitting clothing for comfort.

Avoid tight belts, bras, slacks and knee socks. Clothes that decrease blood circulation in the legs that leads to varicose veins.

Wear flat shoes, medium or low heels, provide firm support and have a generally good fit. High heels may result in an accident or  a back ache.

Nutrition in pregnancy

High protein diet, low carbohydrates, low salt and lots of vitamins for enzyme action.

Control weight gain which increases demands and strains the heart.

High roughage diet to prevent straining at stool.

Iron foods to prevent anemia

Minor disorders of pregnancy

Heartburn — It is greater in heavier women  and worsens after 30 weeks gestational age.

Management  of heart burn

Small frequent light meals

Avoid fatty and spice foods because emptying of fatty and spice food are delayed.

Take fresh milk to nuetralise the acid in the stomach.

Sucking peppermint

Avoid bending or stooping

Avoid chocolates, coffee and alcohol

Constipation — Caused by decreased activity of the bowel because of progesterone which relaxes muscles and delayed emptying, lack of roughage and exercise.

Management of constipation

Eating green vegetables if tolerable eat them raw for example, cabbages and lettuce.

Minor disorders of pregnancy

Eating brown rice or whole wheat bread,

Moderate exercises.

Take liquid paraffin as prescribed.

Evacuate the bowel when feeling the urge before constipated.

Backache — this is lordosis of the spine and the body is trying to pick its balance and  the weight of the growing uterus resulting in backache.

Management of backache

There is need to teach and correct posture hence the importance of booking.

Avoid carrying heavy loads.

Sleeping on a firm mattress.

Wear flat shoes.

Minor disorders of pregnancy

Sitting in a chair which support both back and thighs.

Avoid straining the back muscles when changing positions.

Exclude Urinary Tract Infections

Varicose  veins — caused by high levels of progesterone and also by reduced peripheral resistance in blood vessels resulting in sluggish blood flow. Some result from hereditary or congenital problems and it worsens in pregnancy.

Management of varicose veins

Avoid standing for long time.

Walk around to promote blood circulation.

Elevate limbs when sitting to promote venous return.

Monitor varicose veins to ensure that they do not develop into Deep Vein Thrombosis /DVT and this can only be done when one has booked for ANC.

Minor disorders of pregnancy

Cramps — common in almost half of pregnant women and it is suspected that electrolyte imbalance cause cramps.

Management of cramps

Massaging and stretching of the affected limb.

Rise the feet at night and frequently during the day

Eat brown bread and vegetables.

Take fresh milk.

Frequency in Micturition — pressure of gravid uterus on the bladder so it fills up quickly hence the urge to void. During 6 to 12 weeks of pregnancy there is increased water excretion by the kidneys.

Nocturia — this is possible due to excessive  urine when lying down at night the pressure on the bladder is reduced and there is increased  blood flow to the kidneys.

Management of Nocturia

Minor disorders of pregnancy

Avoid substances that causes diuresis such as caffeine and lacto.

Lie in left lateral or tilted position to promote diuresis.

Avoid standing for longtime to avoid water logging in the lower extremities.

Fainting attacks — due to insufficient oxygen to the brain /cerebral hypoxia especially when the woman stands for too long.

Management of fainting attacks

Wear loose fitting clothes.

Avoid standing for too long.

Lie down at once when starts feeling dizzy.

Avoid sleeping in supine.

Leucorrhoea — there is increased vaginal discharge due to increased blood supply to the vagina. It is a physiological discharge which is odorless may or may not cause irritation.

Minor disorders of pregnancy.

Management of leucorrhoea.

Wear cotton pants or panty liners to allow absorption of discharge or urine.

Clean and wash frequently.

Avoid  use of tights.

Exclude vaginal candidiasis.


For more information , questions and contributions contact: [email protected]/or 0772224231.

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