Pregnancy Awareness Week, which runs from 10 to 16 February, aims to spread information that promotes healthy pregnancies.
However, those working in the field say there is a lack of education about pregnancy in SA, which can lead to avoidable complications at birth or long-term developmental challenges for the child.
“Newly pregnant women face a lot of choices – from how to best manage their pregnancy, to which medical professionals to see and where to deliver,” Dr Howard Manyonga, an obstetrician and The Birthing Team maternity care programme head, says.
“Finding information that is accurate and applicable to them can be a challenge.”
Manyonga highlights four key things that all pregnant women should know:
- Prenatal care is crucial to a safe delivery – tests and check-ups during pregnancy are vital to preventing anything from going wrong during childbirth. The risk of premature delivery or an emergency c-section goes up if women do not get adequate prenatal care. Regular visits with a midwife allow for proper monitoring of foetal growth and detection of complications like urinary tract infection which can cause premature delivery.
- Your diet impacts your baby – eating a balanced diet is very important for healthy foetal development, as is avoiding things that can harm the baby such as alcohol, smoking and too many sugary snacks and drinks. Taking prenatal multivitamins is a good way to ensure your baby is getting what it needs to grow.
- Costs can be unpredictable – many women choose to deliver in a private hospital, but do not realise that it is impossible to predict their final bill. You need to budget for the possibility of an emergency c-section, extra hospital days and specialist fees. For those who are uninsured, this can be financially crippling.
- You are protected by labour law – pregnant women cannot be discriminated against in the workplace or expected to perform any tasks that are damaging to their unborn child, including heavy lifting and exposure to chemicals. More regular bathroom breaks and allowances for morning sickness are written into the constitution. It is illegal to dismiss a woman because she is pregnant.