1.2  When do most mothers and newborns die in the postnatal period?

Mothers and their newborn babies are at highest risk of dying during the early neonatal period, especially in the first 24 hours following birth and over the first seven days after delivery (see Table 1.1). As you can see from the table, 45-50% of the mothers and newborns who die do so in the first 24 hours after birth, and 65-75% of the maternal and neonatal deaths occur within one week of birth. This is compelling evidence to provide optimum and integrated maternal and newborn care during the first few days after delivery.

Table 1.1  Global estimates of maternal and newborn mortality in the first seven days after the birth.

Deaths after deliveryFirst 24 hours (%)First seven days (%)
Maternal mortality4565
Neonatal mortality5075

For some life-threatening maternal and newborn conditions, effective postnatal care is either given in the first few hours and days, or it will happen too late. The earlier these clinical conditions are detected, the more effectively they can be managed; the quicker they are referred for specialised treatment, the better the outcomes will be. Unfortunately, most of these interventions are highly time-dependant in order to be effective. You should keep this in mind while providing care to mothers and their babies in the first few days of postnatal life.

1.1  Why is effective postnatal care so important?

1.3  What do mothers and newborns in the postnatal period die from?