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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
www.nice.org.uk/guidance/CG37

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