With coverage of antenatal care in sub-Saharan Africa approaching a universal level, attention is now turning to maximising the life-saving potential of antenatal care. This study assessed the gestational age at which pregnant mothers make their first antenatal visit in the context of high antenatal coverage in Lesotho.
For the purposes of this study, secondary data from the Demographic and Health Survey of 2014 was analysed. These data were collected in 2014, via an interviewer administered questionnaire. Survival analysis was applied to the data, using Stata SE 15 to compute time ratios that estimate time to first antenatal visit in Lesotho.
Despite near universal coverage, only 24% of mothers start antenatal care before 12 weeks of gestation, as recommended by the World Health Organization. In addition, mothers with unwanted pregnancies are most likely to delay antenatal care until later in gestation, followed by mothers with mistimed pregnancies. Education, but not wealth, correlates with the start of antenatal care.
Having achieved near universal coverage, emphasising a prompt start and adherence to recommended visits could optimise the life-saving potential of antenatal care in Lesotho.