A recent survey published in the American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing revealed that knowledge of postpartum mortality and potential complications for mothers is severely lacking among nurses in the United States.
Much of the attention in postpartum care is given to the infant. But mothers also face significant risks of complications including blood clots, hypertension and heart problems. Yet new mothers are often not taught about these potentially fatal conditions’ warning signs. Women’s bodies undergo a significant amount of stress and physiological changes before, during and after delivery. Fluctuating hormone levels add even more physical and psychological factors to recovery, making it difficult to know if something is truly wrong, especially without knowing the warning signs.
The study found that only 15% of nurses surveyed were aware of the percentage of maternal mortality in the United States, and 67% of nurses spent less than 10 minutes discussing warning signs of complications with new mothers. Yet 95% of nurses agreed that there is a correlation between postpartum education and mortality levels, and 72% strongly agreed they had a responsibility to teach new mothers about the risks associated with birth.
More effort needs to be focused on educating new mothers not only to avoid complications, but to promote a culture of caring for the mother as well as the child. It also inevitably leads to better outcomes, according to the study’s authors:
“…the postpartum discharge education RNs provide to women must be clear, concise, and accurate. Obstetric nurses are well positioned to improve maternal outcomes when armed with accurate knowledge, enhanced teaching skills, and adequate time to communicate the message.