Postnatal maternal morbidity: extent, causes, prevention and treatment


Correspondence: Dr C. M. A. Glazener, University of Aberdeen, Health Services Research Unit, Polwarth Building, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB9 2ZD, UK.


Objective To describe the prevalence and causes of postnatal maternal morbidity.

Design Questionnaire survey of postnatal patients. Further data extracted from SMRl returns, case records and the Aberdeen Maternity and Neonatal Databank.

Setting Postnatal care in a teaching maternity hospital, midwife delivery hospital, general practitioner maternity units and in the community.

Subjects Twenty percent random sample of deliveries (1249 women) surveyed one week, eight weeks and 12 to 18 months after delivery.

Main outcome measures Incidence of self reported maternal morbidity, treatment received, readmission rates and causes for readmission.

Results Of mothers in the sample 85% (99% CI 82-88%) reported at least one health problem in hospital, rising to 87% (84-90%) of those at home; 76% (71-81%) reported at least one health problem after eight weeks post-delivery.

Conclusions Maternal morbiditv is extensive and under-recognised after delivery. Measures to reduce and alleviate it must be sought.