Examine a specific client group who would benefit from health promotion intervention
It is crucial for a pregnant woman to maintain good health to improve her chances giving birth to a healthy baby. Pregnant women are less likely to have problems during pregnancy if they maintain a good diet and frequently exercise, while also receiving regular antenatal checks. The object of this essay is to analyse how pregnant women will benefit from Health Promotion intervention, and who is best placed to provide this intervention, discussing the standing of a pregnant woman’s health and well-being by exploring the factors that impact her health and that of her unborn child, while recognizing the midwife’s role as the primary caregiver, advocate, educator, advisor.
Health Promotion is the act of keeping people and communities healthy through advocacy and action. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defined Health Promotion as “the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health. It moves beyond a focus on individual behaviour, towards a wide range of social and environmental interventions”. Health services and professionals included, but not limited to, General Practitioners, Nurses, Pharmacists and Nutritionists play a significant role and are fundamental in Health Promotion activities because they encounter a considerable number of people as part of their daily job duties. Local authority departments, linked services, and professionals can also promote health. This includes professionals and services relating to social work, environmental health departments, teachers/lecturers, welfare workers, and all other professionals that work directly and within the community.
Pregnant women may be some weeks along in their pregnancy before they are aware of their condition and before they start making a conscious effort to improve their diet. Good foetal brain development, a healthy birth weight, and a reduced risk of many birth defects is linked to maintaining a good diet during pregnancy. A balanced diet will also reduce the risks of anemia, as well as other pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue and morning sickness. Good nutrition aids in balancing mood swings. In addition, it can improve labor and delivery.
Evidence shows that a more frequent occurrence of antenatal appointments by women with their primary caregivers is associated with a reduced possibility of stillbirths. This is because of the amplified chances to detect and manage potential problems (www.who.int). A minimum of eight contacts for antenatal care can reduce deaths relating to just before and just after birth by up to 8 per 1000 births when compared to a minimum of four visits (www.who.int).
Antenatal care is an excellent avenue to offer a whole host of health promotion services. It is essential for midwives and their patients to discuss factors that impact the woman’s health and that of her pregnancy. Dr Francesco Branca, from the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development for the World Health Organisation said that during the antenatal period, counselling about healthy eating, optimal nutrition and what vitamins or minerals women should take during pregnancy can make a phenomenal difference for the pregnant woman and her unborn baby to maintain good health throughout pregnancy and beyond.
Midwives can promote the health of the women in their care and the health of their babies before and after birth. This can be achieved by teaching the women about the benefits of eating well, getting adequate rest, maintaining good hygiene, family planning methods after childbirth, and the benefits of breastfeeding. Educating women about immunization and other disease prevention measures are also ways midwives can promote the health of the mother and her child. Midwives are in the best position to educate pregnant women, so they can make informed decisions regarding their pregnancy and the period after, while never losing sight of the difficulties some women face in being able to improve their lifestyles.
Maintaining a balanced diet as a pregnant woman requires eating a variety of healthy foods as well as eating enough to help her woman and her baby stay healthy and strong. A balanced diet will give a pregnant woman’s body the defence mechanisms required to resist or fight illness. It keeps her teeth and bones strong, while also giving her enough strength to carry out her day to day duties. In addition, good nutrition in the mother allows her baby to develop and grow well in the womb while assisting in a speedy recovering after birth. Finally, good nutrition allows for good production of breast milk to feed the baby once it arrives. Consuming iron-rich foods during pregnancy is not enough. Pregnant women often find it a struggle to get the required level of iron from her diet alone, and it is for this reason that they are encouraged to also take iron tablets to prevent anaemia.
Many women continue to work throughout their pregnancy. There should be a huge emphasis on resting and getting enough sleep daily in order to help her to stay strong and avoid developing high blood pressure and oedema. It is essential that they are encouraged to take lots of breaks throughout the day. The midwife is equally well-informed to advise her on the dangers of lifting heavy things, coming into contact with chemicals or their fumes, and the use of non-essential medicines.
Smoking, alcohol consumption and the use of illegal drugs are especially harmful to the developing baby. Smoking during pregnancy increases the chances of a baby being born too small or too early. Smoking also increases the risk of stillbirth. Every cigarette a pregnant woman smokes increases the risks to her pregnancy. Pregnant women must be informed about medications and other things that can cross the placenta into the baby’s system, and the implications of this. Pregnant women who smoke can talk to their midwives, health visitors, practice nurses or pharmacists for advice and for details of whether to access the nearest NHS Stop Smoking service. They can offer one-to-one or group sessions with trained stop smoking advisers and may even have a pregnancy stop smoking specialist located onsite. They can also offer advice about dealing with stress, weight gain and support the use of nicotine replacement therapy if appropriate, to help the patient manage and eliminate their cravings.
Maternal obesity has become one of the most commonly occurring risk factors during pregnancy. Pregnant women who suffer from obesity are at risk of high blood pressure which leads to other conditions that could have serious consequences, like Pre-Eclampsia. Within their antenatal care plan, such women should have an obesity management plan integrated. Midwives can provide accurate and accessible information about the risks associated with obesity in pregnancy and how they can be minimised. Women should be given the opportunity to discuss this information at their antenatal appointments.
For all the reasons stated above, I believe that pregnant women would greatly benefit from Health Promotion intervention. A pregnant woman’s health and well-being, and that of her unborn child can be improved significantly as a direct result of health promotion. Furthermore, I believe that Midwives are best suited to provide this health promotion intervention, because there is an obvious need for this. Midwives must dedicate some focus to teenage pregnancy, smoking cessation, drug awareness and domestic violence (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov).