Providing postpartum care is a key to improve women’s adaptation and health after childbirth. It is one of the most important goals of reproductive health programs and involves the presence of well-trained, empathic healthcare providers to detect, manage and/or refer complication after birth. Ideally, the provision of postpartum homecare should also be integrated with other services such as breastfeeding support and antenatal care.
Postpartum care includes both basic and specialized homecare, typically offered to new mothers by nurses with a lower secondary education degree (so-called maternity care assistants, MCA) in collaboration with community midwives. Its main aim is to monitor the health of a woman and her baby, identifying potential problems and giving advice, especially for breastfeeding.
The majority of MCAs provide a routine care to healthy newborns and mothers, but women with some health or social problems may require more specialised care. These include women who suffer from perineal pain and those with anemia and other pre-existing medical conditions. The MCA should advise on the use of analgesia, such as paracetamol, or rectal suppositories if available, and should recommend abstinence from sexual intercourse until the uterus has healed.
The MCA should also educate women on how to recognize warning signs, such as a high fever, blood in the urine or vaginal bleeding, and on how to treat them. This will be useful for women who are at risk of developing a life-threatening illness after childbirth, such as postpartum hemorrhage.