The first time I was pregnant, ante natal clinic was the farthest thing from my mind. So I started quite late and started with a four week appointment date, and that was how it was for some time, until my EDD started getting closer.
It was the first time that I met with my consultant that he said I should go for an ultrasound scan. The day of the scan was when my life changed forever. I was going to have TWINS!!! Never thought of that in my wildest imagination. Now, armed with the scan result, I was eager to show it to my doctor, but my next appointment was weeks away. Anyways, the day finally came and I showed him the result. He looked at the result and my bump, before asking me to lie down, so he could measure my bump and listen to the babies’ heartbeat.
From that time, my appointments were two weeks apart. Two weeks later, I was in the hospital and my appointment went well. The Saturday of that week, I had my babies. They came early but I guess, they did not want me to be frequenting the clinic. But I paid for it by sleeping in the hospital for almost two weeks later.
The second time around, I registered before I was three months pregnant. I really don’t know why, considering the ante natal clinic I used was a Government owned one, and it was quite tiring. I literally spent the whole day in the clinic. I would go in the morning and see the doctor in the afternoon and go home, tired as a dog from merely sitting down.
Anyways, at least during the early months, I didn’t go in all the time, I started with a 6-week appointment, then moved to every four weeks, and the two week appointments started and, again, I went to the clinic on a Wednesday, where the doctor told me to come in anytime I felt labour was coming on, as the first baby’s head had firmly engaged my cervix. I had the babies the following Saturday. And that was the end of my hospital runs, at least as a pregnant mother.
In all I saw my doctor a total of seven times, while I was pregnant the second time and three times the first time.
In my sister’s experience, she incidentally, registered at a clinic run by the same consultant whom I had seen the first time I was pregnant. Hmm, small world. Imagine him seeing two sisters through their first pregnancies. Her own hospital appointments were a lot closer together. She started with three-week interval appointments, but was encouraged to drop in, if she ever had any complaints. By her second trimester, she was on a two-week appointment interval and maintained that till she got into her third trimester, when she went every week.
She was the one who was tired of going to the clinic. But I remember how some of my fellow pregnant moms then used to show excitement at having to come to the clinic a bit more regularly during the third trimester because, according to them, clinic days were days they got extra money from their husbands.
Thinking about it now, I realise that part of the reason I did not get to see my doctor more during my first pregnancy might have been a combination of the fact that the global recommendation for ante natal clinic then was just four times.
Just recently, that figure was reviewed upward. According to the World Health Organization, (WHO), women should visit a doctor, midwife, or nurse at least eight times during their pregnancies, and five of those visits should take place during their third trimester.
This is a pretty significant change, considering the organization’s previous recommendations advised four clinical visits throughout the duration of a single pregnancy. These new guidelines also point out that qualified midwives and possibly traditional birth attendants (who are more common in our clime), play important roles for women who cannot afford doctor’s visits or are unable to travel to meet with their physicians.
These guidelines just might be the very thing we need to bring down the statistics surrounding maternal death rates. According to a release from the organization, over 300,000 women suffered pregnancy-related deaths last year alone. The statistics surrounding infant mortality are alarming as well: The organization reports that 2.6 million stillbirths occurred, and 2.7 million infants died within 28 days of birth. Quite alarming.
“The new model increases maternal and fetal assessments to detect problems, improves communication between health providers and pregnant women, and increases the likelihood of positive pregnancy outcomes. It recommends pregnant women to have their first contact in the first 12 weeks’ gestation, with subsequent contacts taking place at 20, 26, 30, 34, 36, 38 and 40 weeks’ gestation,” says a statement by the international organisation.
So whichever group you fall into, whether you opt for more regular clinic visits, or you are one of those who start ante natal clinic later, it is in our interest and the interest of the baby(ies) we are carrying to be go to all our doctor’s appointment, and take all necessary immunization.
Sending you plenty of ‘ginger’ for the journey.
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