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City BANCs on moms-to-be during Pregnancy Awareness Week

The basic ante-natal care (BANC) initiative is designed to register expectant women sooner rather than later to monitor their pregnancy and ensure healthy outcomes for both mom and baby.

The City of Cape Town's Health Department aims to ensure that 65% of all expectant women register for basic ante-natal care (BANC) before they reach the 20-week mark.

Of the 17 819 clients who accessed BANC at City facilities in the 2017/18 financial year, 11 963 (67%) did so before their pregnancy had advanced to 20 weeks.

'Basic ante-natal care focuses on the health and well-being of the expectant mother and unborn baby. The sooner women enrol in the programme, the easier it is to mitigate any potential risks to the pregnancy. It is also important to remember that a child's development begins at conception and not after birth, so we need to invest in their development as soon as possible,' said the City's Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien.

All pregnant women are encouraged to have at least eight ante-natal care visits during pregnancy, starting in week 14. At public health facilities, these visits include:

a physical examination which includes blood pressure checks, weight and urine checks

testing for sexually transmitted infections and screening for TB

blood tests and examination which includes an ultrasound (depending on the stage of the pregnancy)

discussions about the pregnant woman's mental health

answering of questions or concerns the pregnant woman or her partner might have about the pregnancy

'Women who suspect that they might be pregnant should schedule a visit with their clinic or general practitioner and once confirmed, should sign up for ante-natal care immediately. Early clinic visits and attending all ante-natal care visits will ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby,' added Councillor Badroodien.

A year ago, City Health facilities introduced post-natal services, which include breastfeeding, nutrition advice as well as HIV prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).

The roll-out of these services facilitates the process of seeing mothers and babies as a pair who receive integrated care starting from the time of conception and extending for as long as is required. It contributes to reduce the time spent at healthcare facilities as well as the number of appointments they have to make.

City Health also provides reproductive health services for clients who want to prevent pregnancy. This includes oral and injectable contraception methods, intra-uterine and other hormonal devices, male and female condoms, counselling and testing for sexually transmitted infections, and sexual education sessions for young people.

The number of babies born to women younger than 18 accounted for 3,7% of all births recorded in 2017 � the same rate recorded in 2016 � down from 5,3% of all births in 2006.

'Pregnancy is a life-changing experience that needs to be planned. City Health is equipped to assist those who are embarking on the journey, as well as those who aren't ready for it. But we need women and their partners to take advantage of these services. An unplanned pregnancy can have far-reaching consequences for both mom, baby and the rest of the family, but so too can a pregnancy that is not effectively monitored,' said Councillor Badroodien.

Source: City Of Cape Town

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