Access to health care
Purpose: The purpose of prenatal health care is to monitor the health of the mother and baby, monitor growth of the baby, provide health education and advice to the mother, identify any risks to the mother and baby, and provide medical interventions if need be.
Who: The World Health Organization recommends pregnant women access prenatal health care at least four times during their pregnancy to increase the likelihood of receiving effective maternal health interventions.
Statistics: In 2009, 65% of women attended at least one antenatal visit before 14 weeks gestation, although 11.9 per cent of women did not receive antenatal care until after 20 weeks.
80 per cent of women in major cities and inner regional areas in New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory received antenatal care in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, compared with 73.7 per cent of women residing in remote and 53.1 per cent of women in very remote areas.
Avoid: Stress in pregnancy can have a negative impact on both mother and baby.
- A 2011 study indicates that women who have to travel for more than one hour to access antenatal care are nearly eight times as likely to experience moderate or severe stress as mothers who have this care close to home (National Rural Health Alliance, 2012). A 2010 survey of rural families found only 12 per cent of the respondents felt they had good access to maternity services (National Rural Health Alliance, 2012). - The birthing process is a time when medical intervention is often required and, if adequate health care is not accessible, any complications arising can go untreated and impact the health and individual human development of both mother and baby.
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