1.2  Planning for maternal and newborn healthcare in your community

Pregnant women may face many different health problems during pregnancy. Some of these are bleeding, high blood pressure, convulsions, high fever, blurred vision, abdominal pain, breathing difficulties, severe headache, anaemia, diabetes and infections. You will learn about the diagnosis and management of all these health problems in later study sessions in this Module.

To ensure a full understanding of the problems that pregnant women may face during the antenatal period, and the possible solutions, a well planned antenatal care programme is necessary. The content of the programme and the method of approach should be based on the presentation of clear educational messages (as you will see in Study Session 2).

To plan effective maternal and newborn health services, you need to make an assessment of your community and identify the health needs of the population.

  • How could you do this?

  • You can carry out this assessment through asking questions or through discussion with community representatives and elderly people who know the persistent patterns of habits, customs, attitudes and values in the community, which are transmitted from generation to generation.

Then you need to identify the problems in relation to maternal and newborn health conditions, and assess the uptake of services. In promotion of maternal and child health services, you should clearly identify any attitudes and conditions which have an influence on the outcomes. For example, in small villages, when a woman has a problem in labour it is very difficult for her to go to a health centre or hospital. Few or no villagers have cars, and even in urban areas most taxi drivers refuse to take a woman in labour to hospital. It is therefore very important for you to have an emergency care plan set up, and to make arrangements for transporting women who need urgent care to treat complications associated with pregnancy or childbirth. You will learn about emergency care planning in Study Session 13.

Finding out what the concerns are in your community is an important first step in identifying and studying the problems in your catchment area, and your next step is to rank them in priority order.

1.1.3  How can maternal and neonatal mortalities be reduced?

1.2.1  Ranking and prioritising problems to tackle