Mothers-to-be advised to register early at clinics

─ delayed health checks during pregnancy can lead to maternal, neonatal deaths – Dr. Hamilton

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) unit of the Ministry of Public Health is strongly advocating for women to plan pregnancies and join neighbourhood clinics once sexually active.

Overtime data has shown that pregnant women and/or their babies die before delivery, during birth or just after delivery. This is owed to health complications unknown to the mother and might have gone undetected before the pregnant woman would have joined an antenatal clinic. Being enlisted for antenatal care reduces the risk of a woman and/or baby losing their life due to an uncontrolled complication.

Director of Primary Health Care in Guyana, Dr. Ertenesia Hamilton explained that women in Guyana are joining antenatal clinics later than they are required. This puts doctors and other healthcare providers at a disadvantage in addressing existing health complications and controlling others that may arise during the course of the pregnancy.

“When you go to the clinic very late, our chances or the time that we have to ensure that you deliver safely is very small. If you come early, it gives us more time to make decisions and to be more prepared,” Dr, Hamilton said.

The director added that it is imperative that a woman should seek to visit a doctor and be enrolled in an antenatal clinic when they have missed a scheduled period after unprotected sex.

“When do we want you to join the clinic? From the time the woman misses her period we want her to come to clinic let us assure her that she is pregnant and let us start giving her the vitamins, we will look at how she is gaining weight, checking her blood pressure and ensuring that she is safe.”

Further, Dr. Hamilton detailed that based on research, the leading cause of maternal mortality is haemorrhaging followed closely by high blood pressure.

“Bleeding is one of our main causes. Women are dying just before, just after, at points during their pregnancies from bleeding. What is next? High blood pressure. What does high blood pressure cause? It causes bleeding in the brain, when that happens there is very little that we can do to preserve the life of the woman because we cannot go all the way there to stop that bleeding.”

Once enrolled in a clinic, women can also be advised on the importance of family. While family planning is critical to managing a family’s economic status the health implications are considered above all.

“Women, who continue to get pregnant, after bearing a certain number of children, puts herself at a higher risk.” Dr. Hamilton explained, “if the woman becomes pregnant within a very short period after her last baby her body has not recovered as yet and is again put through the same process.”

Dr. Hamilton noted that the woman’s reproduction system will need adequate time to re-adjust and be prepared for another pregnancy. Also, the baby will be at a disadvantage when receiving the necessary nutrients needed for growth and development.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that after a live birth, in order to reduce the risk of adverse maternal, perinatal, and infant outcomes, the recommended interval before attempting the next pregnancy is at least 24 months.

Delicia Haynes

Images: Tejpaul Bridgemohan