What is included in maternal care following the delivery of the placenta?

Updated: Jan 24, 2019
  • Author: Sarah Hagood Milton, MD; Chief Editor: Christine Isaacs, MD  more...
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After the placenta is delivered, the labor and delivery period is complete. Palpate the patient's abdomen to confirm reduction in the size of the uterus and its firmness. Ongoing blood loss and a boggy uterus suggest uterine atony. A thorough examination of the birth canal, including the cervix and the vagina, the perineum, and the distal rectum, is warranted, and repair of episiotomy or perineal/vaginal lacerations should be carried out.

Franchi et al found that topically applied lidocaine-prilocaine (EMLA) cream was an effective and satisfactory alternative to mepivacaine infiltration for pain relief during perineal repair. In a randomized trial of 61 women with either an episiotomy or a perineal laceration after vaginal delivery, women in the EMLA group had lower pain scores than those in the mepivacaine group (1.7 +/- 2.4 vs 3.9 +/- 2.4; P = .0002), and a significantly higher proportion of women expressed satisfaction with anesthesia method in the EMLA group than in the mepivacaine group (83.8% vs 53.3%; P = .01). [65]

In a Cochrane review, Aasheim et al suggest that evidence is sufficient to support the use of warm compresses to prevent perineal tears. They also found a reduction in third-degree and fourth-degree tears with massage of the perineum to reduce the rate of episiotomy. [66]

The World Health Organization developed a checklist to address the major causes of maternal death (hemorrhage, infection, obstructed labor and hypertensive disorders), intrapartum-related stillbirths (inadequate intrapartum care), and neonatal deaths (birth asphyxia, infection and complications related to prematurity). [67, 68]

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