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Objectives The objective of this study was to investigate the causes and covariates of late antenatal care access in South Africa. Methods A cross-sectional study was conducted, interviewing 221 women at four public-sector labour wards in Cape Town, South Africa in 2014. A definition of late attendance as attending ≥ 5 months was used. Data were analysed using univariate, bivariate and multivariate methods. Results Of the women who attended antenatal care at a public-sector clinic (n = 213, 96.4%), more than half (51.2%) attended ≥ 3 months and < 5 months, and a quarter (26.3%) attended ≥ 5 months. For those attending ≥ 5 months, 51.8% cited late recognition of pregnancy as the major reason for delayed attendance. Supply-side barriers were not identified as large contributing factors to delayed attendance. Late antenatal care access was predominantly associated with demand-side factors. Women who accessed antenatal care ≥ 5 months were more likely to be in the poorest 40% of the wealth-index distribution (p = 0.034) and to not have completed high school (p = 0.006). They were also more likely to report alcohol consumption during pregnancy (p = 0.020) and be multiparous (p = 0.035). Having completed high school was protective of late antenatal care access in stepwise logistic regression analysis (OR 0.403, CI 0.210-0.773, p < 0.01). For women who attended ≥ 3 months, late access was associated with unwanted pregnancy (p = 0.030). Conclusions for Practice Improved access to pregnancy tests could assist in earlier pregnancy identification. Interventions to increase awareness of the importance of early antenatal care attendance among vulnerable women may help.


Keywords: Antenatal care, HIV, Health seeking, Unintended pregnancy


Smith, A., Burger, R. and Black, V., 2019. Demand-Side Causes and Covariates of Late Antenatal Care Access in Cape Town, South Africa. Maternal and child health journal, pp.1-10.