A nationwide survey shows that postpartum nurses often fail to warn mothers about potentially life-threatening complications following childbirth, mainly because they need more education themselves.
Everyone knows the first few weeks after giving birth are a woman’s happiest days on earth. So why should medical professionals harsh their buzz by educating them on potentially fatal postpartum complications?
Well, consider the fact that the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among wealthy nations. About 800 women die in the United States annually from pregnancy and birth related conditions. Another 65,000 women in the United States have their lives threatened by postpartum disorders. A recent analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly 60% of maternal deaths are preventable.
Postpartum conditions that can be life-threatening
Preeclampsia is a condition which can silently elevate the blood pressure of pregnant women to life-threatening levels. It can also have its onset after what appears to be a completely successful birth experience.
The intrusion of amniotic fluid into the bloodstream can cause dangerous, potentially stroke causing embolisms in the bloodstream of a new mother. Severe hemorrhages can occur without warning.
Placenta accreta is a condition in which the placenta grows into the wall of the uterus. In placenta percreta, the placenta penetrates through the uterine wall. Sometimes pieces of the placenta remain inside the uterus, where they can cause severe complications.
Each and every brand-new mom needs comprehensive education on these and many other postpartum complications so that they can spot any signs of trouble.
In 2014, Deborah Bingham, who now teaches at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, was the vice president of nursing research and education for the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. A survey conducted by the Association showed that nurses may have been a lot more focused on telling moms about how to take care of the brand-new infant than about how to take care of themselves.
Nurses agree that they can be a powerful resource given the right tools
In this new 2017 study, the Association learned that nurses can be provided with concise, targeted information about preeclampsia and other potentially lethal postpartum complications. Nurses can readily pass on that knowledge to new mothers in the form of a script, together with a take-home checklist of symptoms and home diagnostic procedures, such as frequent blood pressure testing.
Such tools have already been documented with positive results. As Bingham noted after the script and take-home checklist were implemented in four hospitals, “Very quickly, we started hearing from the nurses that women were coming back to the hospital with our handouts, identifying their own symptoms of complications.”
I applaud the efforts of all neonatal professionals in helping to reduce postpartum mortality. Mothers need to be pro-active as well and utilize the informational tools currently available with their doctors. Let me know what you think. Thaïs
Listen to the NPR interview here:
Read the full article at: www.npr.org