Have you ever wondered what benefits the antenatal care system in Nigeria can afford you? Or do you know the benefits but wonder why so many pregnant women are not under this care? Well, we can explain. Some see it as a curse, a punishment, or an inconvenience. Others see it as a blessing, a miracle, and a responsibility. But the truth is, pregnancy is a natural phenomenon that should be celebrated, cherished and nurtured. These facts necessitate the provision of adequate antenatal programs all across the country.
Sadly, the case is largely the opposite. Every year, thousands of Nigerian women die during childbirth mainly as a result of faulty antenatal care. According to report, “only 65% of women receive antenatal care during pregnancy. In areas of the country with the highest maternal and perinatal death rates, there are stark disparities in access to health care.”
For example, less than 10% of pregnant women in Sokoto and Kebbi States receive antenatal care and less than 5% have skilled care during delivery.
This is a heartbreaking reality that we must change.
One way of doing that is by understanding and spreading the importance of antenatal care.
So, what is antenatal care?
Antenatal care is a set of medical interventions that aim to ensure the well-being of the mother and the unborn child. It includes regular check-ups, laboratory tests, immunizations, and counseling on healthy lifestyles and practices.
Benefits of antenatal care
There are several benefits of antenatal care in Nigeria. For starters, it can help detect and prevent complications such as high blood pressure, anaemia, malaria, and gestational diabetes. It can also provide early diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and other diseases that can harm the mother and the baby. Additionally, antenatal care can help mothers prepare for labour and delivery, breastfeed their babies, and care for their newborns.
Challenges of antenatal care in Nigeria
However, despite the benefits of antenatal care, there are still many challenges that Nigerian women face. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of access to quality healthcare services. In rural areas, many women cannot access antenatal care due to long distances, poor road networks, and inadequate health facilities. Furthermore, some women cannot afford the cost of antenatal care, which includes transportation, drugs, and consultation fees. Others face cultural and religious barriers, such as male dominance, stigma, and discrimination.
In conclusion, antenatal care is a vital component of maternal and child health in Nigeria. It has numerous benefits, but also some challenges. To reduce maternal and child mortality, it is essential to increase access to quality antenatal care services, promote healthy behaviours and lifestyles, and address the sociocultural factors that affect women’s ability to access healthcare. Remember, a healthy mother equals a healthy baby and a healthy nation. Let us all contribute to achieving that goal.