Why antenatal clinic is urgent in Tiaty East, Baringo County and the role of MAMA Wellness Center
Every woman should have access to safe and quality maternal care services, including prenatal, antenatal clinic, and postnatal care, but for most mothers living in rural and marginalized areas such as Tiaty East in Baringo County, efficient and effective reproductive healthcare services can be difficult to find.
When a woman is planning to have a baby, conceives or discovers she is pregnant, she should immediately visit an antenatal clinic for check up and general profiling. On her antenatal clinic visits, the expectant mother is put on nutritional supplements, including folic acid, which is very essential during the pregnancy.
Folic acid in pregnancy has superhero value. The recommended amount of folic acid that one should take before and during pregnancy is 400 micrograms. This can help to prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain and spinal cord.
Folic acid is a man-made vitamin B which is known as folate. Folate is naturally found in dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and fortified cereals. Natural foods alone cannot provide enough folate during and after pregnancy, hence the need to supplement it with folic acid.
Folate plays a very vital role in formation of the red blood cells and helps the baby’s neural tube to develop in their brain and spinal cord.
According to studies most birth defects occur in the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy and having folate in your body during those early stages is very crucial since it is the time the brain and spinal cord are forming. It recommended that folic acid should be taken everyday when pregnant.
As an expecting mother, without enough folic acid in the body, your baby’s neural tube may not close correctly and they develop health problems called neural tube defects, commonly known as Spina bifida (incomplete development of the spinal cord) and Anencephaly (incomplete development of major parts of the brain)
Babies with Anencephaly usually do not live for long and with Spina bifida the baby may be permanently disabled. Folic acid when taken during pregnancy may also prevent the baby against cleft lip and palate, premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage and poor growth in the womb.
Folic acid can also reduce your risk of anemia, placental abruption and cardiovascular diseases.
Despite folic acid being a very vital supplementation, many women living in Tiaty East and many rural marginalized areas do not have access to either the supplements or the foods rich in folate. The community does not have a well-equipped health facility and the long distance to reproductive health clinics has become a devastating barrier.
There are numerous other supplements, foods, pregnancy care supplies and services that women in Baringo County do not have access to, an inequality that exposes them to life-threatening risks and vulnerabilities.
As MAMA, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Altro Foundation and other reproductive health partners, we are committed to fully equip our MAMA Wellness Resource Centre to deliver quality pre and postnatal care as well as child healthcare services to the Tiaty East community.
We are also preparing to train the community on small-scale crop farming practices, including kitchen gardening, to cushion mothers and children from nutritional deficiencies, especially when drought hits.
Article by Euodia Ondisa