3.2.4 Pregnant women with special needs
Some pregnant women in your community will be particularly vulnerable. As a Health Extension Practitioner it is important that you identify the women who may need extra help and support. Box 3.2 gives examples of women who may need special help from you and outlines the kinds of service you can provide for them.
Box 3.2 Identifying and helping pregnant women who need special help
Pregnant women who might need special help include:
- Women from poor families, or who are unemployed
- Women who are widows/separated, and have no support
- Mothers who have given birth to many babies over a short time
- Women who are ill from diseases like Tuberculosis (TB)
- Women who look thin and depressed
- Mothers whose previous babies were small and malnourished
- Women with a history of their baby or babies dying in their first year of life
- Mothers overburdened with work
- Mothers who are very worried, particularly first time pregnancies.
The Health Extension Practitioner’s role:
- Visit the pregnant women often
- Encourage them to eat as good mixture of foods as they can afford (fruits, vegetables, animal source foods)
- Let them be the first ones to receive iron or food supplements, when available
- Help them to get proper healthcare
- Encourage other members of the household to do some of the work and lessen the work burden on the woman.
What are the effects of low maternal iron level for the baby and mother in pregnancy?
The mother will have difficulty during childbirth and pregnancy. The baby of an anaemic mother will not develop well and will have low birth weight. The baby will then be easily affected by different infections.
Which parts of the body should you examine to find out whether a pregnant woman is anaemic or not?
You should examine the lower eyelids, inside of the lips and the palms of the hand. If there is anaemia, they will be pale whitish; if there is no anaemia they will be pinkish.