Childbirth is tricky. Mums may have been doing it for ages and many people call it natural, but the truth is that it opens up the mum and the baby to some risks. In many ways Mums need to be prepared and there are many groups out there that are set up to help. We also keep talking about choice and Mums have to listen very carefully to the advice that they are given and then try to make the best choice for themselves
Some community pharmacies are setting themselves up to help and provide advice and a range of services that would help a mum to be ready for the birth and when looking after their precious baby.
Why community pharmacy? Well that is simple – they are the most accessible source of healthcare advice and represent choice and convenience.
The pharmacy often starts the process by offering for sale the pregnancy test, but there are a number of other things that they can offer during the pregnancy and after delivery.
- Influenza vaccination. Obviously the NHS would want 75% of pregnant women to receive immunisation, but we are a long way of that. So the Pharmacy team may have an important role to try to increase the immunisation in this particular group. There are other important immunisations mentioned here https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/510981/9738_PHE_Pregnancy_DL_16pp_leaflet_13_web.pdf
- Assessment and treatment of anaemia. Anaemia is relatively common during pregnancy. A simple and inexpensive test will provide a Haemoglobin level and haematocrit within a minute. Women with low haemoglobin measurements may be offered a suitable over the counter products and retested at a later date. You may wish to consider point of care tests for HIV and Hepatitis B.
- Group B Strep Awareness and test. Group B Strep is carried by 1 quarter of all women through their pregnancy. The bacteria can be transferred at birth to the baby. A few babies will develop a Group Strep B infection that might include a chest infection right through to meningitis and sepsis. It is the most common cause of sepsis in the newborn. Despite a number of petitions the UK does not recommend universal screening, but both NICE and the RCOG recommend routine intravenous antibiotic prophylaxis to carriers. Community pharmacy in association with the Group B Strep Support charity are well placed to both raise awareness and offer for sale a test recommended by Public Health England and not routinely available in the NHS.
- Supportive care on minor conditions. Things like reflux, back pain and stretchmarks may not be minor conditions, but a community pharmacist would be well placed to offer advice on suitable remedies, taking into account salt content and general applicability.
- Support post-delivery. Mum and baby can have a wide range of common complaints from sore nipples and tiredness to nappy rash, childhood dermatitis and wind. The pharmacy team will be able to offer advice and a range of helpful solutions to most common problems. Some pharmacies offer advanced feeding advice for those mums which struggle to breast feed or use standard formulas.
It is very important that Mums always get good advice and support and the community pharmacy may be just the right place