Improving Quality of Antenatal Care: New Guidelines From the World Health Organization (WHO)

Posted on

By: Kayla McGowan, Project Coordinator, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experienceThe World Health Organization has released a new set of antenatal care (ANC) recommendations to improve maternal and perinatal health worldwide. The guidelines seek to reduce the global burden of stillbirths, reduce pregnancy complications and provide all women and adolescents with a positive pregnancy experience.

High quality health care during pregnancy and childbirth can prevent deaths from pregnancy complications, perinatal deaths and stillbirths, yet globally, less than two-thirds of women receive antenatal care at least four times throughout their pregnancy. The new ANC model raises the recommended number of ANC visits from four to eight, thereby increasing the number of opportunities providers have to detect and address preventable complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.

The guidelines provide 49 recommendations for routine and context-specific ANC visits, including nutritional interventions, maternal/fetal assessments, preventive measures, interventions for common physiological symptoms and health system interventions.  Given that women around the world experience maternal care in a wide range of settings, the recommendations also outline several context-specific service delivery options, including midwife-led care, group care and community-based interventions.

Access the ANC guidelines and resources from WHO

Learn more about antenatal care.

Subscribe to the MHTF blog to receive an upcoming blog post exploring the WHO ANC guidelines.