76 Pregnancy and Childbir th
check-ups can help
you decide the best
place to have your
baby: at home, or at
a health center or
Prenatal check-ups are important to find and take care of
problems early—before they become dangerous. Good
prenatal care is not difficult to give and does not require very
expensive equipment. It can save many lives.
If you are pregnant, try to have at least 3 check-ups:
1. As soon as you think you are pregnant.
2. Around the 6th month of pregnancy.
3. A month before the baby is due.
A midwife or health worker will ask about past pregnancies
and births, including any problems, such as a lot of bleeding or
babies that died. This information can help you both prepare for
similar problems in this pregnancy. A midwife may also be able to:
• make sure a woman is eating well enough and suggest ways
for her to eat better food, if necessary.
• give iron and folic acid tablets, which help prevent anemia
and birth defects.
• examine the mother, to make sure she is healthy and that
the baby is growing well.
• give vaccinations to prevent tetanus, a disease that can kill
both mothers and babies (see page 161).
• give medicine to prevent malaria if it is common in the area.
• give tests for HIV (see page 288) and syphilis, along with
other sexually transmitted infections (see page 261).
• give medicines to prevent a woman’s HIV from spreading to
What to expect at a prenatal check-up
A birth attendant or midwife should do these things at a prenatal check-up:
• Check the eyelids
and finger nails for
signs of anemia
(see page 172).
• Check the hands
and face for swelling
(see page 74).
• Check weight,
(see page 532).
• Check the growth of the baby in the
womb. Normally the womb will grow
2 fingers each month. At 4½ months
it is usually at the level of the navel. If
the womb seems too small or too big
or grows too fast, it may mean there is
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012