Postnatal Care

Postpartum danger signs (in the mother)

Go to the health center IMMEDIATELY if you experience any of the following:

  • Increased vaginal bleeding
  • Fits or convulsions
  • Fast or difficult breathing
  • Fever
  • Too weak to get out of bed
  • Severe headache with blurred vision
  • Shortness of breath, chest pain or redness and swelling in the calf

Go to the health center AS SOON AS POSSIBLE if you experience any of the following:

  • Smelly vaginal discharge
  • Increased pain or redness of the vulva and vagina
  • Infection at the wound in the perineum (if the woman had a tear or episiotomy) evidenced by redness, swelling pain or pus at the wound
  • Problems with urinating or leaking
  • Swollen, red or tender nipples or breasts
  • Severe depression or suicidal thoughts or behavior

Immediately after birth…

  • The baby should be placed on the mother’s chest “skin to skin” to keep the baby warm and to promote bonding
  • Breastfeed your baby within the first hour after birth
  • Someone should remain with the mother for at least 24 hours after birth to respond to any changes in her or the baby’s condition

Key Message: The majority of maternal deaths occur in the first week after birth (particularly the first 24 hours), so it is important that all women and their families are made aware of danger signs during the postnatal period and instructed to watch for signs of complications.

What to expect after the birth of your baby
You may experience:

  • Contractions or “afterpains” for a few days after birth. These will feel similar to the cramps you feel during your mwenzi
  • Vaginal soreness, especially if you had a virginal tear or episiotomy
  • Vaginal discharge (lochia) is normal for a few weeks following pregnancy.
    • Expect a bright red, heavy flow for the first few days
    • The bleeding should gradually decrease and the colour will change from red to pink or brown and eventually become white/yellow
  • Difficulty urinating due to swelling and bruising of the tissues around the bladder
  • Hemorrhoids or pain during bowel movements
  • Sore breasts and leaking milk
  • Sadness, mood swings, irritability or anxiety: these emotions are common after birth and usually go away within a few weeks.
  • Weight loss: most women lose about 10 pounds during birth from the baby, placenta and amniotic fluid.

Postnatal Care Visits (PNC)
After childbirth you and your newborn should be examined by a health worker within 24 hours. This should occur in the health center before you are discharged or may occur at home by a trained health provider.

You should have another three postnatal visits in the weeks after delivery to ensure that you and your baby are progressing well are not experiencing any issues or danger signs.

These are the best times to visit:

  • First visit: within 1 week of the birth
  • Second visit: 7-14 days after birth
  • Third visit: 4-6 weeks after birth
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