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What is postnatal care and what does it include?
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What is postnatal care and what does it include?

Alternative Text By: Pallavi Gunni | November 6, 2018

In India there is a culture to take extra care of the pregnant lady. I won’t say that there is any harm in taking care and prenatal care is equally important but we often forget to take care of the lady who has just given birth. Pregnancy care consists of prenatal (before birth) and postpartum (after birth) healthcare for expectant mothers. Postnatal care is equally important for the new mom as the mother goes through many physical and emotional changes while learning to care for her newborn. Postpartum care involves getting proper rest, nutrition, and vaginal care.

According to WHO -The postnatal period can be divided into three stages –

  • the initial or acute phase, 6–12 hours after childbirth;
  • subacute postnatal period, which lasts 2–6 weeks, and
  • the delayed PNC, which can last up to 6 months.

In the subacute postpartum period, 87% to 94% of women report at least one health problem. Long term health problems (persisting after the delayed postpartum period) are reported by 31% of women.

What is postnatal care? Let me explain you what exactly is postnatal care.

The days and weeks following after the childbirth also know as postnatal period is a critical phase in the lives of mothers and new born babies. Postnatal care (PNC) for the mother should respond to her special needs, starting within an hour after the delivery of the placenta and extending it through the following six weeks. The care includes the prevention, early detection and treatment of complications, and the provision of counselling on breastfeeding, birth spacing, immunization and maternal nutrition.

Postnatal care (PNC) involves the following –

  • Checking the vital signs – Vital signs mean checking if the body temperature, blood pressure is normal or within the range. Vital signs should be done at least once a week. Vital signs are important because they are useful in detecting or monitoring medical problems.
  • Counsel on the mother breastfeeding nutrition, hygiene, rest, and infant care including cord care.
  • Promote birth registration and timely immunization according to national schedules for the newborn.
  • Counselling the mother on – Excessive bleeding, headache, fits, fever, feeling very weak, breathing difficulties foul-smelling discharge, painful urination, severe abdominal or perennial pain.

Counselling on the following newborn danger signs:

  • Poor sucking or inability to feed properly.
  • Inactivity or lethargy
  • Fast breathing, difficulty in breathing, chest or sub costal retraction
  • Fever or body too cold
  • Vomiting or abdominal distension
  • Signs of umbilical infection (pus discharge at base, surrounding redness or swelling, foul smell.

mother newborn care

Postnatal care is essential for 6-8 weeks after the baby is born. During this period, the mother goes through a number of physical and emotional changes and thus requires rest, nutrition and vaginal care. The main objectives here are:

  • Prevent postpartum complications
  • Restore mother to optimal health
  • Ensure problem free breastfeeding

Sharing responsibility is essential for the health of the mother, after delivery. Get as much sleep as possible and pay attention to what you eat. Do not try and lose your pregnancy weight instantly. Schedule a check-up with your doctor six weeks after delivery to ensure your vagina has healed properly. Additionally, abstain from intercourse at this time. With proper care, every stage of your pregnancy can be a beautiful experience.

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This content has been certified by our panelist Dr. Anjali Kumar

Dr. Anjali Kumar

MBBS, Certificate Course and Training,
MD - Obstetrics & Gynaecology

26 years experience

Gynecologist/Obstetrician

View Profile

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