Many pregnant women in Africa who access professional antenatal care do not receive all the WHO-recommended components of care. Using Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria, this study assesses the relationship of education level with the quality of antenatal care received and highlights how the number of antenatal visits mediates this relationship. The results show that a large proportion of the effect of education level on quality of care is direct, while only a small portion is mediated through the number of antenatal visits. Efforts to improve pregnancy outcomes for under-privileged women should focus on removing structural barriers to access, strengthening the technical and interpersonal skills of providers, and addressing providers’ biases and discriminatory practices towards these women. Such efforts should also seek to empower underprivileged women to insist on quality antenatal care by explaining what to expect during an antenatal visit.