Feature Article

The early puerperium: managing the first week

Feature Article

The early puerperium: managing the first week

Ian Jones

Figures

Abstract

The trend for shorter stays in hospital following childbirth means GPs are becoming increasingly involved in the care of new mothers and their babies. This article discusses the management of the various conditions that mothers may experience in the first week or so following delivery.

Key Points

  • Maternal conditions that were common for hospital staff to manage have become the province of the GP and the home visiting midwifery service.
  • Potentially life threatening emergencies include postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), infection, severe hypertension and eclampsia, venous thrombosis and embolism, and, occasionally, severe psychiatric disorders.
  • PPH may be due to retained products of conception, infection, uterine atony, genital tract trauma or blood coagulation abnormalities.
  • Postpartum infection may be located in the breast, birth canal and bladder – the three B’s.
  • Good liaison between hospital staff and GPs remains the key to providing excellent care for new mothers and their babies.