Maternal health means the health of the future mothers during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum period. Providing care for mothers in this period will lead to a lot of benefits; it will keep the mothers healthy during the pregnancy and after delivery, will make the delivery easier and safer and keeping the mother healthy after the delivery.
Maternal health is mainly composed of 4 phases that every mother should know about.
1. Premarital and preconception care:
It is seeking care before marriage and before pregnancy. Seeking for care in the phase assesses the young woman and her husband in achieving the optimal health before conception and it detects any potential risk to pregnancy.
It is composed of:
– Health education about family life, sexual relation and idea about family planning.
– Examinations: A lot of examinations can be done at this phase like complete family history for genetic diseases, full medical examination and investigations like urine investigation and full blood picture.
– Immunization: especially for rubella. Rubella vaccination should be taken three months before the expected pregnancy.
2. Prenatal care:
This phase is so important for many reasons:
– It ensures and maintains the health of the expectant mothers.
– It educates and prepares the expectant females psychologically for motherhood.
– It is important to check up for the possible complications during pregnancy and to take up preventive and medical measures.
– If a high risk case is detected, it is referred to a hospital.
The doctor at this phase should build a trusting relationship with the mother. The follow-up and the visits should be scheduled. Health education about the dangerous signs of pregnancy and the nutritional assessment are essential too.
3. Intra-natal care:
Now it is the delivery time. Normal labour is the process of delivery of the baby through the birth canal without assistance or complications and that what should be maintained in this phase.
The site of delivery should be decided by the mother. Home is preferred in normal and non-complicated cases. It should be a sanitary housing condition, assisted by trained personnel and ensure referral of the case in emergency. Hospital should be limited for complicated cases only but some normal cases prefer the hospital for safety.
The main aims of intra-natal care are:
– Normal conduction of delivery under complete aseptic conditions.
– Minimum possible injury to the mother and the new-born.
– Immediate care of the new-born at delivery.
4. Post-natal care:
During puerperal period mothers are visited by a nurse 3 times at the first week for examination of the child and the mother herself.
The temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure and bowl habits of the mother should be checked well.
The nurse cares for the umbilical stump of the baby, examines his/her eyes and examines for any congenital anomaly.
After delivery and during the first weeks, the mother should know everything about nutrition for her and her baby especially the promotion of breast feeding. It should learn also about the signs and symptoms of postnatal complications, how to care of her breast and nipple, know everything about personal hygiene and should have psychological support to avoid postpartum depression.