New mom and baby services

2018-03-13 06:00

The City of Cape Town is expanding its healthcare offering to mothers and their babies with the introduction of postnatal services at clinics.

The launch of these new services took place at the Klip Road Clinic in Grassy Park last Friday in the presence of JP Smith, Mayco member for safety, security and social services.

Until now, postnatal assessments of mothers and their babies in the first six weeks after birth have only been available at the maternal obstetrics units (MOUs) that are owned and operated by the Western Cape government. City Health’s services have been limited to family planning, basic antenatal care (BANC) and testing for HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections­.

Going forward, mothers will be able to access postnatal services like breastfeeding and nutrition advice, as well as prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) in cases where the mother is HIV positive. This is a significant addition because it improves accessibility for the client, as this service will now be available in the area where they reside, says Smith.

“The City has been making an effort to ensure that mothers and babies are seen as a pair who receive integrated care starting from the time of conception and extending for as long as is required. It is critical that once women receive a positive pregnancy test, they are immediately booked, tested for HIV, enrolled on antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) if needed and, after delivery, that they return to the original clinic for postnatal and child health services. Sending them from one healthcare facility for one service, to another for something else, and being seen by various different clinicians, confuses clients and leads to gaps in care.”

The integration of mom and baby care means that during the BANC appointments, future moms can be given the baby’s Road to Health card ahead of time, taught about the importance of loving and talking to the baby in the womb, and making sure she is connected for extended support. The early follow-up after delivery helps staff identify mental health issues and offer support for breastfeeding.

Offering these services together is a cost-effective way to identify and address problems that otherwise might play out negatively in the first thousand days of the life of the child. The wellbeing of the mother, including the provision of a safe family planning method to prevent unintended pregnancies, is just as important.

This new integrated package of care makes it easier for clients to observe all recommended health measures and also reduces the number of clinic visits and saves time, enabling women to be more active in the labour force, improve household income and invest more in their own as well as their children’s health, education and wellbeing. This approach also means savings for the healthcare system by eliminating unnecessary clinic visits.

The integrated mom and baby strategy at clinics includes early basic antenatal care before 20 weeks and up to six visits, postnatal care for the mother before six days and at six weeks, reproductive health education and access to a variety of family planning methods, the coordination of mother and baby appointments for immunisations, baby services including nutrition education and developmental screening, advice on breastfeeding, referrals to other levels of care as needed, and access to support.

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