Cultural Differences in Prenatal Care

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Cultural Differences in Prenatal Care
A Comparison of White versus African American Prenatal Care

Ideally, a pregnancy is planned, and the appropriate pre-conception steps are taken to ensure a healthy pregnancy. But we all know that that is not always the case. So, we begin by asking ourselves, what is prenatal care? Standard prenatal care in an assumed, normal pregnancy basicly means seeing a health care provider once a month for the first 28 weeks; then every two to three weeks until 36 weeks; and then weekly until delivery, according to the guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Women's Health, 2005). Soon after a positive pregnancy test, pregnant women should receive a physical, report their medical history and get routine prenatal tests, including blood tests, urinalysis, and more. The obstetrician or health care provider will then recommend avoiding alcohol, smoking and recreational drugs, he or she will also discuss the appropriate and healthy weight gain during pregnancy, eating well-balanced meals, exercise, and taking prenatal vitamins. During pregnancy, women need a higher caloric intake, basically they should eat an extra 300 calories per day, but that doesn't mean doubling your food intake; the expectant mother should make sure she gets proper nutrition, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and protein. Much research has found that with White versus African American women, many African American women do not pursue proper prenatal care, but they should, as it is the first step to a healthy mom and baby. (Ebony, 2006) "Of the annual 8 million infant deaths worldwide, 5 million occur in the neonatal period and most of these occur in the developing countries. Close to two-thirds of these neonatal deaths occur in the early neonatal period. Perinatal mortality, comprising of still births and early neonatal deaths is one of the sensitive indices of the quality of prenatal, obstetric and early neonatal care available to women and newborns." (Ogunlesi, 2006). The major causes of early neonatal death are perinatal asphyxia, prematurity and severe infections like bacterial septicemia and tetanus, and these are directly or indirectly related to the quality of prenatal and delivery services available to pregnant women. (Ogunlesi, 2006) The trouble with the deteriorating utilization of obstetric and neonatal services in consonance with the depressed national economy had previously been raised in Nigeria. This study was, therefore, carried out to assess the pattern of utilization of the prenatal and delivery services available in Ilesa – a semi urban Nigerian community in the 21st century. (Ogunlesi, 2006) The conventional prenatal and maternity services are provided in Ilesa by the Wesley Guild Hospital and the Multipurpose Health Center, both of which are part of a tertiary health institution. There are twenty-eight local-government owned primary health centers and maternity centers that provide the primary health care, while the State Hospital, Ilesa provides the secondary health care. There are also many privately owned clinics and hospitals. They also have traditional Birth Homes, churches and unregistered health posts that also provide unorthodox services. (Ogunlesi, 2006)

By receiving early prenatal care, mothers can help to reduce the occurrence of perinatal illness, disability, and death; this allows for proper health care advice and identification and management of any chronic or pregnancy-related risks. In a study reported by Women's Health Magazine in 2005, the percentage of mothers receiving prenatal care in their first trimester of pregnancy increased slightly from 2002 to 2003, from 83.7 percent to 84.1 percent. Overall this figure has risen 11 percent since 1990, when only 75.8 percent of women received first trimester care. (Women's Health, 2005). Even though there was a positive trend observed among most racial/ethnic groups, there are still...
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