Objectives: This paper examines the gestational age at first antenatal care (ANC) visit and factors associated with timely initiation of ANC in Malawi in a context where maternal and child health services are generally provided for free. Methods: Lognormal survival models are applied to Demographic and Health Survey data from a nationally representative sample of women (n = 13,588) of child-bearing age. Results: The findings of this study show that less than 30 % of pregnant women initiate ANC within the World Health Organization recommended gestational timeframe of 16 weeks or earlier. The hazard analysis shows a gradient in the initiation of ANC by maternal education level, with least educated mothers most likely to delay their first ANC visit. However, after adjusting for variables capturing intimate partner violence in the multivariate models, the effect of maternal education attenuated and lost statistical significance. Other significant predictors of gestational age at first ANC include media exposure, perceived distance from health facility, age, and birth order. Conclusions for Practice: The findings of the study link domestic violence directly with the gestational age at which mothers initiate ANC, suggesting that gender-based violence may operate through delayed initiation of ANC to undermine maternal and child health outcomes.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Antenatal care, Education, Gender relations, Gestational age, Malawi, Policy
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10995-015-1754-6
Journal Maternal and Child Health Journal
Citation
Mkandawire, P. (2015). Gestational Age at First Antenatal Care Visit in Malawi. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 19(11), 2366–2374. doi:10.1007/s10995-015-1754-6