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Postnatal care up to 8 weeks after birth

Key priorities for implementation

  • A documented, individualised postnatal care plan should be developed with the woman ideally in the antenatal period or as soon as possible after birth. This should include:
    • relevant factors from the antenatal, intrapartum and immediate postnatal period
    • details of the healthcare professionals involved in her care and that of her baby, including roles and contact details
    • plans for the postnatal period
  • This should be reviewed at each postnatal contact
  • There should be local protocols about written communication, in particular about the transfer of care between clinical sectors and healthcare professionals. These protocols should be audited
  • Women should be offered relevant and timely information to enable them to promote their own and their babies' health and well-being and to recognise and respond to problems
  • At the first postnatal contact, women should be advised of the signs and symptoms of potentially life-threatening conditions and to contact their healthcare professional immediately or call for emergency help if any signs and symptoms occur
  • All maternity care providers (whether working in hospital or in primary care) should implement an externally evaluated, structured programme that encourages breastfeeding, using the Baby Friendly Initiative (www.babyfriendly.org.uk) as a minimum standard
  • At each postnatal contact, women should be asked about their emotional well-being, what family and social support they have and their usual coping strategies for dealing with day-to-day matters. Women and their families/partners should be encouraged to tell their healthcare professional about any changes in mood, emotional state and behaviour that are outside of the woman's normal pattern
  • At each postnatal contact, parents should be offered information and advice to enable them to:
    • assess their baby's general condition
    • identify signs and symptoms of common health problems seen in babies
    • contact a healthcare professional or emergency service if required

full guideline available from…
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Level 1A, City Tower, Piccadilly Plaza, Manchester, M1 4BT

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Postnatal care up to 8 weeks after birth. July 2006
First included: October 2006.