A Healthy Mother and Baby through Optimal Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy
One of the strategies that can assist to improve maternal and newborn outcomes in Malawi is the provision of preconception care. Most of the problems that affect the neonates and their mothers occur before pregnancy and during organogenesis. Men and women of childbearing age need appropriate advice and healthcare to assist them to have healthy maternal and newborn outcomes. Persistent use of family planning and healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy could assist in reducing some of the causes of the maternal and infant mortality rate. Preconception health should be promoted through the use of family planning methods at a recommended time to have a healthy pregnancy. A quantitative descriptive non-experimental design was used to examine the use of preconception interventions at health centres in the urban areas of Blantyre, Malawi. Information was collected from 300 men and women of childbearing age between 18 and 35 years that had a pregnancy and intended to get pregnant in five years. The major findings indicated that information on optimal timing and spacing of pregnancy should be provided to men and women of childbearing age and that there should be adequate use of family planning methods. There were mixed messages on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy as 32.8 per cent of the participants indicated that pregnancy should be spaced in 1 to 2 years and 23.5 per cent indicated that pregnancy should be spaced more than 5 years. About n = 196 (64.9%) had one to two children. Healthcare providers should provide guidelines on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy through preconception care that would enable men and women of childbearing age to access information and care to improve pregnancy outcomes.