The Importance of Postpartum Care

In many cultures, women follow the birth of a child with rest, recovery, and the support of family members. Unfortunately, in the United States, a woman’s comprehensive postpartum visit often punctuates a period devoid of formal and informal maternal support.

post-partum care is important to ensure that a woman is healthy, well-adjusted, and prepared to breastfeed. It also provides the opportunity to review and discuss any adverse outcomes of labor and delivery, such as a retained placenta, uterine atony, lacerations, or coagulation problems.

Despite the importance of postpartum care, as few as 40% of women attend a postpartum visit. Attendance is even lower among populations with limited resources, such as those who receive their health care through Medicaid. 6 8

Attendance at postpartum visits should be encouraged by incorporating discussions about the importance of this visit into prenatal care and by scheduling the postpartum visit before hospital discharge. The use of peer counselors, intrapartum support staff, and postpartum nurses to assist in these discussions may be helpful. Additionally, using technology (e.g., texting and apps) to remind women about their postpartum visit can increase attendance.

When a new mother is discharged from inpatient care, she should be provided with the contact information for her local obstetrician-gynecologist and an appointment to see her within 24 hours of her homecoming. If she has been prescribed the medication oxytocin to promote labor, she should be assessed for any bleeding or clots that may develop. If a clot is suspected, the health care provider can gently massage the uterus while supporting it to encourage the clot to move toward the pelvic floor and then expel.

A gynecologist should also provide instructions on how to bathe, bathe the baby, and change diapers in the most hygienic manner. She should also teach the woman how to take a deep breath when urinating, as this can prevent hemorrhoids in the future.

A health care provider should also educate a woman about breastfeeding, which is usually the preferred mode of infant feeding. A new mother should be encouraged to feed her baby as soon as possible to maximize her breastfeeding success and should be given information on how to recognize and treat problems with nursing. If the woman is unable to nurse, she should be provided with information on how to prepare for bottle feeding. She should also be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids, although this is difficult in the presence of vomiting. She should be provided with a soft pillow and blanket for comfort, as the experience of vomiting can cause chills.

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