5.1.6  Help the mother to urinate

A woman squats over a bowl to urinate.
Figure 5.6  The mother can squat over a bowl to urinate if this is easier for her to manage.

A full bladder can cause bleeding and other problems. A mother’s bladder will probably be full after the birth, but she may not feel the need to urinate. Ask her to urinate within the first two to three hours. If she is too tired to get up and walk, she can squat over a bowl on the bed or on the floor (Figure 5.6). She can also urinate into a towel or thick cloth while lying down. If she cannot urinate, it may help to pour clean, warm water over her genitals while she tries.

If the mother cannot urinate after four hours, and her bladder is not full, she may be dehydrated. Help her to drink fluids. If her bladder is full and she still cannot urinate, she needs to have a catheter inserted to drain her bladder. If you have been trained to do this, catheterise her as shown in Study Session 22 of the Antenatal Care Module and your practical skills training. Then refer her to the nearest health centre or hospital.

  • What is the single most important thing you should always do before examining a woman who has just given birth?

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly to minimise the chance of transferring any bacteria that may be on them. If you are examining her genital area, then after washing your hands put on surgical gloves.

5.1.5  Check the mother’s genitals for tears and other problems

5.2  Nutrition after childbirth