WHO Doubles Recommended Number of Prenatal Checkups

But you're probably right on track.
ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
Nov 2016
Illustration of a stethoscope on a teal background
Photo: Shutterstock

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced an aggressive recommendation for pregnant women today: Moms-to-be are advised to schedule eight prenatal checkups as opposed to the previously-recommended four.

Before you clear your schedule and call your OB, know that for moms in the US, this is already routine. In fact, most pregnant American women will end up seeing their OB at least 10 times. But worldwide, that isn’t the case; only 65 percent of women have four or more prenatal appointments. To reduce the global rate of SIDS and birth complications, WHO is calling for frequent checkups to become the norm.

“More and better quality contacts between all women and their health providers throughout pregnancy will facilitate the uptake of preventive measures, timely detection of risks, reduces complications and addresses health inequalities,” says Anthony Costello, Director of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, WHO. “Antenatal (prenatal) care for first time mothers is key. This will determine how they use antenatal care in future pregnancies.”

Appointments with a midwife or any trained health personnel are recommended beginning at week 12 of pregnancy, with subsequent checkups at 20, 26, 30, 34, 36, 38 and 40 weeks.

This new recommendation is just one of 49 released in today’s recommendations on antenatal care, many of which are regionally-specific. They cover a broad spectrum of health considerations, from vitamin and mineral supplementation and vaccinations to drug and alcohol use.

Below are some of the highlights most applicable in the US, according to the report:

  • Daily oral iron and folic acid supplementation with 30 mg to 60 mg of elemental iron and 400 µg (0.4 mg) folic acid for pregnant women to prevent maternal anaemia, puerperal sepsis, low birth weight and preterm birth
  • Ginger, chamomile, vitamin B6 and/or acupuncture are recommended for the relief of nausea in early pregnancy, based on a woman’s preferences and available options
  • Regular exercise throughout pregnancy is recommended to prevent low back and pelvic pain
  • Advice on diet and lifestyle is recommended to prevent and relieve heartburn in pregnancy. Antacid preparations can be offered to women with symptoms that are not relieved by lifestyle modification

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