Postnatal care is the care given to a mother and their newborn baby after birth and for the next 6 weeks. Early postnatal care can be defined as the care given to mother and baby 24 hours after birth. Late postnatal care can be defined as the care given after 24 hours has elapsed up until 6 weeks after birth.
After birth, it is very important for both the mother and child to be assessed within the first hour of birth, after 6 hours, within the first 24 hours, and before being discharged from the hospital.
It is for this reason that mothers are urged to remain at the hospital for at least 24 hours after giving birth. This allows for the close monitoring of both mother and child. Additionally, this gives the mother an opportunity to rest. It is highly recommended that a mother is not be discharged until she can breastfeed the newborn.
After the immediate postnatal period, it is recommended that the mother attends a minimum of 3 consultations within the first 6 weeks. The commonly followed schedule is 2-3days after the baby is born, 7-14 days after birth, and 6 weeks after birth.
It is therefore important to assess what components of postnatal care can be provided close to home. Postnatal care is provided by primary healthcare providers or community-based providers and at a healthcare facility.
After childbirth, mothers should be offered quality healthcare by trained healthcare providers. Care during birth as well as postnatal care should be provided by skilled birth attendants who are also known as accredited health professionals.
They can be a doctor, nurse or midwife educated and proficiently trained to manage uncomplicated pregnancies, childbirth, and immediate postnatal period.
They should also have the ability to identify, manage and refer women and newborn babies with complications. Late postnatal care at a health facility is offered by a skilled birth attendant.
Postnatal care at the community level is provided either in full or in part. It is offered by several cadres of healthcare providers, in some instances, community-based health care workers can also help.
Postnatal care should be offered at all levels with clear pathways for referrals for both women and newborn babies with complications and who might need additional investigation and management.
Childbirth and the period around childbirth present a crucial cultural and social event for the mother and her family. It is also important for the mother; her newborn and her family are in a supportive environment that makes them feel equipped and informed to start their new life.
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It is advisable that for every postnatal visit, the mother and the newborn should be attended at the same time and by the same healthcare provider. They should be attended to in a room that is light, warm, well ventilated, and with privacy.
The well-being and health of the mother and her baby are the focus of postnatal care consultations. Postnatal care consultations offer an avenue for discussing the events that occurred during pregnancy and birth if there were any complications, and what it means for future pregnancies.
During postnatal visits, family planning options should be discussed and offered. Additionally, if any tests and investigations were done during and after pregnancy, the results should also be discussed to help the mother understand the possible implications of these results.
The postnatal period also offers the opportunity to go through maternal co-morbidities and assess whether the mother has been tested for HIV, malaria, syphilis, tuberculosis, anemia, diabetes, or hypertension while pregnant.
The mother also gets an opportunity to bond with her baby, nurture and feed the baby. New mothers often need advice and support from their family and friends. They should be made to feel comfortable enough to share any worries and concerns they may have either for themselves or their babies.
Several aspects are involved in maintaining appropriate postnatal care. Postnatal care involves more than just medical examinations. Mothers must eat appropriately during the postnatal stage. Feeding appropriately helps them in their recovery and ensures there is a continuous supply of milk for the baby.
It is common for mothers to fear gaining weight during and after pregnancy and may often be tempted to diet. Dieting affects milk supply and can make it a little difficult to bounce back after childbirth.
Mothers should not diet. Instead, they should eat nutritious food. Healthcare providers should provide mothers with a nutrition plan to follow. Additionally, mothers need to have ample rest as they recover.
New mothers should avoid moving around too much. They can choose to have their babies in their bedrooms to limit movements. Taking care of a newborn can prove to be very difficult for most mothers especially first-time mothers.
Once at home, mothers should have another person handling house chores to avoid overworking. They should not fear asking for help whenever they need it. Mothers should have time where they get to engage in activities that relieve them of stress and help in their recovery. They should follow appropriate hygiene procedures to avoid health issues since they are very vulnerable during this period.
Postnatal care is an essential point for mothers and their babies. Postnatal care is important as it serves to protect both the mother and baby throughout the postpartum period. If the mother and baby are offered appropriate medical care, healthcare providers can catch potential issues at the early stages before they complicate and become life-threatening.
New mothers are usually at risk of developing health complications. However, postnatal care helps in protecting both mother and baby.
Mothers who access proper postnatal care benefit in several ways. Postnatal care fastens the recovery process of mothers thereby enabling them to bounce back to work quickly. Postnatal care helps mothers to enjoy motherhood fully as it reduces fatigue and exhaustion in mothers.
Happy mothers make happy babies since babies can connect to their mother’s energy. Additionally. Postnatal care leads to better production and supply of milk which in turn helps in improving the health of the newborn.
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