Health experts have revealed that family planning and attaining antenatal care services by expectant mothers are key pillars in ensuring safe motherhood.
In a virtual discussion, Dr. Carole Sekimpi, the Country Director of Marie Stopes Uganda on Monday explained;
“Safe motherhood is about ensuring the best possible outcome for women and their children through the process of pregnancy and childbirth.”
Whereas this is what we would like to see, she said, this is not always the case. For many women, the journey of pregnancy is like walking through the unknown.
She noted that while the country has made significant progress in addressing barriers to safe motherhood, more work needs to be done.
The Healthy Newborn Network estimates that every day, 15 women die in Uganda from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes, 94 babies are stillborn and 81 newborn babies die.
Dr, Sekimpi said noted that through planning, pregnancies are had during the healthiest time, when they’re wanted and planned.
She further said that through visiting a hospital once every month, a relationship is created between the health provider and expectant mother, and relevant information is shared.
Dr. Andrew Chakura, obstetrician-gynecologist re-emphasized that antenatal care visits and post-delivery care are essential in achieving safe motherhood.
“If we take good care of the mother during her antenatal period, during that most crucial time of labour and childbirth and that immediate time after child delivery, we always get good outcomes. The problem only comes if there are delays in deciding to come to the health facility by the mother; if they delay in accessing the facility due to challenges of transport and related issues, or when there are delays at facility level in instituting appropriate interventions,” he explained.
Dr. Chakura further said more precautions should be observed in the most crucial period, 24 hours after delivery, as the mother and baby are likely to face complications. He said.
“Actually, about 30% of the babies will die within the first 24 hours; the day of birth, then the other about 70% will extend to 7 days after delivery.”
Likewise, for the mother, he added, most of the issues will arise immediately after delivery including bleeding, which is the greatest killer, high blood pressure among others.
Experts noted that women with children have more risks.
“Every pregnancy carries a risk; whether it’s the first pregnancy or not. The risk is greater as the number of pregnancies increase. For every pregnancy, the mothers should seek antenatal care as early as they realize that they’re pregnant from a qualified care provider at least 8 times. During that time, we screen them and danger signs are communicated to mothers during antenatal classes, such as lower limb swelling, excessive weight gain during pregnancy, persistent headache, and others.”
Expectant mothers have been cautioned on attaining excessive weight.
“Throughout pregnancy, the expected weight gain is about 10-12 kg. But if such weight is gained in 3 months, that’s excessive. The mother will need more evaluation,” he said.