A Critical Appraisal of Guidelines for Antenatal Care: Components of Care and Priorities in Prenatal Education
Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health
There are a variety of published prenatal care (PNC) guidelines that claim a scientific basis for the information included. Four sets of PNC guidelines published between 2005 and 2009 were examined and critiqued. The recommendations for assessment procedures, laboratory testing, and education/counseling topics were analyzed within and between these guidelines. The PNC components were synthesized to provide an organized, comprehensive appendix that can guide providers of antepartum care. The appendix may be used to locate which guidelines addressed which topics to assist practitioners to identify evidence sources. The suggested timing for introducing and reinforcing specific topics is also presented in the appendix. Although education is often assumed to be a vital component of PNC, it was inconsistently included in the guidelines that were reviewed. Even when education was included, important detail was lacking. Addressing each woman's needs as the first priority was suggested historically and remains relevant in current practice to systematically provide care while maintaining the woman as the central player. More attention to gaps in current research is important for the development of comprehensive prenatal guidelines that contribute effectively to the long‐term health and well‐being of women, families, and their communities.