OBJECTIVE : To understand the barriers delaying early prenatal care for women in South Africa. METHODS : Amixedmethods study was conducted at a center in Pretoria. RESULTS : Following interviews with 21women at a prenatal
clinic in Pretoria, a quantitative survey was completed by 204 postpartum women. During interviews, women
described presenting late owing to contemplating induced abortion, fear of HIV testing, and fear of jealousy
and bewitching. The survey results demonstrated that a majority of women (133 [65.2%]) reported knowledge
of recommendations to present before 12 weeks; however, the average gestational age at initial presentation
was 19.1 ± 7.7 weeks. Women were more likely to present earlier if the pregnancy was planned (P = 0.013)
and were less likely to if they had at any point contemplated induced abortion (P=0.021). Fears of bewitching
and harmful psychological stress owing to a positive HIV test result prevailed in both the interviews and the surveys.
CONCLUSION : Significant efforts should be devoted to improving access to contraception and prepregnancy
counseling in order to improve early prenatal care attendance. Similarly, addressing cultural concerns and
fears regarding pregnancy is imperative in promoting early attendance.