1.4  Why are women and newborns at high risk in the postnatal period?

The most critical period for complications in the postnatal mother arising from bleeding (post-partum haemorrhage) is in the first 4-6 hours after delivery, due to excessive blood loss from the site where the placenta was attached to the mother’s uterus, or from rupture of the uterus during labour and delivery. Haemorrhage can also threaten the baby’s life if it occurs before delivery and the baby is starved of oxygen and nutrients.

Both the mother and the baby are also at high risk of developing other complications if the physiological adjustments that take place in their bodies after the birth do not occur properly. This can result in loss of function or interruption of essential supplies of oxygen and nutrients needed to sustain life.

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

1.4.1  Physiological changes in the postnatal mother