A critical analysis of service provision in preconceptual care

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ORIGINALThis article will critically analyse the current provision of preconceptual care in the United Kingdom (UK). Particular attention will be focused on preconceptual care to include advice given to couples in relation to folic acid supplementation, with consideration given to the social issues associated with this area of practice. The author is a practising midwife, aware of the challenges of providing this very specific service in today's National Health Service (NHS), where funding is constantly under threat and savings are required to be made on an ongoing basis. Approximately 700,000 women become pregnant in the UK annually with over 95% of these pregnancies resulting in the birth of a normal, healthy baby. However, for some of the remaining 5%, problems which occur during fetal intrauterine development can have disastrous effects on the pregnancy outcome and the subsequent health and survival of the child. One of the methods of minimising this risk is the provision of preconceptual care to women considering a pregnancy. This care need has been highlighted inA strategy for maternity care in Northern Ireland 2012–2018(Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPSNI) 2011)and is an area where, up until now, midwives have not had considerable input.

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