By Doris Obinna

Director, Health Education and Health Promotion Services, Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board (LSPHCB), Mrs. Modupe Owojuyibe, has said that antenatal care must be made attractive to pregnant women and females in general as this can promote and stimulate their willingness. She spoke on “Antenatal Care, Family Planning and Immunisation” in Lagos recently.

She disclosed that the purpose of antenatal care is to prevent or identify and treat conditions that may threaten the health of the foetus new-born or the mother and to help a woman approach pregnancy and birth as positive experiences:

“It is sometimes called pregnancy care or maternity care. You will be offered appointments with a midwife, or sometimes a doctor who specializes in pregnancy and birth. It can also include risk identification and screening, prevention and management of pregnancy related or concurrent diseases, and health education and promotion.

“All pregnant women should know that antenatal care is important. They should register for antenatal as soon as pregnancy is confirmed, attend all appointments eight (8 visits) during pregnancy as well as ensure delivery in a health centre, comprehensive health centre or hospital by skilled birth attendants’ midwife or doctor.”

She also encouraged an adequate nutritional diet comprising all classes of food. “Eat seasonal fruits and drink copious fluids, especially water. Be acquainted with early initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life of the baby, exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding 

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“Be actively involved in your own care and that of your baby. Communicate freely with your health care team and feel free to ask questions and raise concerns, if any, about yourself or your baby. Take tetanus diphtheria vaccine (TD) in pregnancy and complete the immunization schedule as recommended even after delivery.

“Note that family planning is essential to the health and welfare of every woman, her child and that of the family. It promotes maternal and child health. A pregnant woman must plan for the baby’s birth with her husband, so that they can save money or provide money to cover all her needs during pregnancy, delivery and after delivery. Make adequate arrangements for getting to the hospital at any time of the day if the need arises.”

She said immunisation “is a way of protecting children from vaccine preventable diseases as soon as a baby is delivered through the administration of vaccines orally or by injection: “Children who are immunised are protected against dangerous diseases such as; TB, measles, meningitis, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, diarrhoea & poliomyelitis etc., which can lead to illness, disability or death.

“All children male or female, have the right to this protection and should be fully immunised and so immunisation should not be delayed, it should commence immediately when a baby is born. A child who missed immunisation at birth should start immediately.

“Every child is expected to have completed immunisation before the age of one. Immunisation is not harmful to the child, it is safe to vaccinate a child that is malnourished, has a disability or sick. Children may have fever or pain at the site of injection after taking the vaccines, this is normal. If fever persists, the mother should report to the nearest health facility.

“Every child should be taken for immunisation six times during the first year as stated in the immunisation schedule. Parents or caregivers should take the child’s health card along to the health facility to record the immunisation the child is given and the date for the next immunization.”