Postpartum care is a series of medical and social follow-up visits that help women and newborns recover from childbirth. During these visits, health workers check on the mother’s health and the baby’s development and immunization schedule. These visits also provide an opportunity for health workers to instruct women on important health care guidelines, such as contraceptive use and breastfeeding.
Women who have not received proper postpartum care are at risk of serious and sometimes life-threatening health complications after childbirth, such as hemorrhage, uterine infections or involuntary loss of blood (postpartum bleeding). These problems can be detected and treated with timely care and good support from health professionals.
The goal of postpartum care is to ensure that the woman and baby are well-recovered from childbirth, both physically and emotionally. The first 24 hours are especially critical for the mother’s physical health. Providing the appropriate medical and social care during this time can reduce maternal and neonatal mortality.
Many of the discomforts and body changes that occur after a woman gives birth are normal. But they can also be warning signs of a serious health problem. The most common danger signs include: calf pain or swelling; fever; headache; chest or abdominal pain; shortness of breath; fatigue; or a low urine output. Health workers should remind women to report any danger signs during their postpartum visits. They should also advise women to go to the hospital or clinic immediately if they experience these symptoms.