BACKGROUND: Maternal mortality is high in Loreto, Peru, but can be reduced by high quality antenatal care. Indicators for the quality of antenatal care received include the timing (with respect to gestational age) and number of antenatal appointments attended, the delivery of antenatal services and health information, and women's perceptions about their care. This study investigated these indicators amongst women receiving antenatal care in predominantly the San Juan Bautista district of Iquitos, Loreto. This was to identify areas for improvement through comparison with antenatal guidelines published by the Ministry of Health, Peru, and the World Health Organization.
METHODS: A total of 134 women were recruited at the Centro de Salud, San Juan-a primary care centre in Iquitos. Information about the delivery of antenatal services and the number of and gestational ages at appointments attended was collected from 121/134 women's hand-held antenatal cards. The delivery of health information and women's perceptions about their antenatal care were investigated through questionnaires (133/134 completed). Descriptive statistics, such as frequencies and valid percentages, were determined.
RESULTS: Hand-held antenatal cards revealed that 52.9% of participants began their antenatal care in the first trimester. Compared to national guidelines, 42.1% attended appointments at recommended gestational ages and no women received all recommended antenatal services. Most women received information about identifying complications in pregnancy and health and lifestyle topics. Over 85% of women reported satisfaction with their antenatal care.
CONCLUSIONS: Timely antenatal attendance and delivery of services should be encouraged to meet national and global standards. Although all services were not delivered in a combined manner according to national guidelines, individual services were mostly delivered to a high standard and therefore a high proportion of women were satisfied with their antenatal care.