Making childbirth a positive experience
The clinical management of labour and childbirth is well understood, but not enough attention is given to making women feel safe, comfortable and positive about their experience.In some settings, women are receiving too many interventions too late; in other settings women receive too many interventions that they may not need, too soon.
Maternal health mirrors the gap between the rich and the poor. WHO insists that a positive childbirth experience should meet a woman’s personal and sociocultural beliefs and expectations in every setting.This includes giving birth to a healthy baby in a clinically and psychologically safe environment, assisted by a kind and technically competent health care provider.
Raising the importance of postnatal care
Women and newborns require support and careful monitoring after birth. Most maternal and infant deaths occur in the first six weeks after delivery, yet this remains the most neglected phase in the provision of quality maternal and newborn care.
Basic care for all newborns should include promoting and supporting early and exclusive breastfeeding if possible, keeping the baby warm, increasing hand washing and providing hygienic umbilical cord and skin care.
Identifying conditions requiring additional care, and counselling on when to take a newborn to a health facility is critical.Families should be counselled on identification of danger signs, understanding the care that both the woman and newborn need, and where to reach services when needed.
All women and newborns need postnatal checkups in the first 6 weeks. As with antenatal care, promoting a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition, detecting and preventing diseases, supporting women who may be experiencing intimate partner violence and ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health including postpartum family planning are key to quality postnatal care.