The World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines on access to prenatal care for pregnant women. The revision was necessitated by maternal deaths remaining high in the world, especially in developing countries where deaths are yet 15 times higher than in developed regions.
WHO has suggested increasing antenatal care visits during the four to eight core visits to ensure a continuum of care throughout pregnancy, labor and childbirth, and the postnatal period. The model of four visits (focused antenatal care) to be replaced has been adopted by WHO in 2002 and has been used since then, caregiving goal-oriented and focused to increase the detection and management of complications during pregnancy.
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Under the new guidelines, the first visit is recommended at 12 weeks of gestation, with subsequent visits to 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 38, and 40 weeks gestation. The new guidelines also provide details about the care to be provided in each of the eight visits.
Under the model focused antenatal care, the first visit was recommended at 16 weeks, the second at 24 to 28 weeks gestation, and the 3rd and 4th visits were at 32 weeks and 36 weeks gestation.
The increase in prenatal care visits should be a welcome movement where maternal and neonatal deaths remain unacceptable. Frequent visits provide a unique opportunity for health professionals to provide care, support, and information to pregnant women, and to identify and prevent adverse pregnancy outcomes.