A few years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a guide with 56 recommendations and suggestions for a positive childbirth experience, whose objective was to establish global standards of care for pregnant women and reduce the number of unnecessary medical interventions .
Now, through a statement on its website, the WHO has published for the first time a guide with recommendations for the first six weeks after childbirth , in order that new mothers and their newborn babies have a postpartum experience positive.
According to information provided by the WHO, more than three women and babies out of 10 do not currently receive postnatal care in the first days after birth. This period is especially important, as it is when most maternal and child deaths occur.
” The need for quality care for mothers and newborns does not stop once the baby is born ,” explains Dr. Anshu Banerjee, Director of the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and WHO Aging. ” Indeed, the birth of a baby is a life-changing event, one filled with love, hope and excitement, but one that can also cause unprecedented stress and anxiety. Parents need strong health care and support systems, especially mothers, whose needs are too often neglected when the baby is born .”
For this reason, the document entitled “WHO recommendations on maternal and newborn care for a positive postnatal experience” has been published, which includes 63 recommendations in total, of which 31 are new or updated.
The new WHO guidelines for a positive postpartum experience
As we mentioned at the beginning, this new guide aims to improve the quality of care that mother and baby receive in the first weeks after childbirth , in order to improve the health and well-being of both.
According to the description of the brochure, a positive postnatal experience is defined as “one in which women, newborns, couples, parents, caregivers and families receive constant information, reassurance and support from workers motivated health care providers, where a resourceful and flexible health system recognizes the needs of women and babies, and respects their cultural context.
Currently this new document is only available in English, so we will briefly review the main recommendations included in it.
What is included in this new guide
All the recommendations are based on scientific evidence , of which it is mentioned that 32 are recommendations that already existed by the WHO, while another 31 have been recommendations that were updated or included for the first time.
The guide is divided into three main blocks : maternal care, newborn care, and health systems and interventions.
In the maternal care section, the first check-ups after childbirth are included, interventions for common physiological symptoms and signs (such as perineal pain and postpartum pain or contractions), preventive measures for certain complaints (such as mastitis or postpartum constipation), interventions mental health to prevent and detect postpartum anxiety or depression, recommendations related to physical activity, as well as recommendations on contraception.
Regarding the care of the newborn , the guide includes the first check-ups of the newborn after delivery (to detect eye abnormalities and hearing deficiencies, as well as the administration of the corresponding vaccines), preventive measures to avoid infections, development and growth of the baby (including early stimulation exercises) and recommendations to promote breastfeeding.
For the section corresponding to health systems and interventions , the WHO puts postpartum check-ups first (four in total: in the first 24 hours after delivery, between 48 and 72 hours, between 7 and 14 days and during the sixth week postpartum), followed by care and check-ups in the first 24 hours and before discharge of the mother and baby, as well as providing mothers and fathers with information that facilitates the transition home with the baby, as well as the inclusion of the father in the care of mother and baby during the postpartum period.
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