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Postnatal nurses unaware of maternal health risks

Most people are not aware of the health risks that new mothers face after childbirth. During delivery and after birth, the focus often tends to be the baby. A recent study finds that some health problems new mothers face postpartum go unnoticed.

In a ProPublica/NPR report on the new study, postpartum nurses do not always identify these health risks. It notes that 700 to 900 new mothers die each year – often needlessly. Even more striking is that another 65,000 experience other serious issues (near-fatal events) annually. What are these issues and when should you as a new mother or loved one caring for a new mother and baby seek help?

When To Seek Help?

After delivery, it is normal to write off certain pains and bleeding as normal, but there are times when it becomes critical to seek medical care immediately. Infections, clots, bleeding and debilitating depression are four of the major dangers. This can relate to a Cesarean wound infection or postpartum bleeding.

Here are a few of the times:

  • Bleeding heavier than a normal period or that cannot be controlled
  • Discharge that does not go away and smells bad
  • Fever above 100.4
  • Pain or swelling around your calves
  • Red streaks across your breasts or new lumps in your breasts/under your arms
  • Feelings of sadness that will not go away
  • Chest pain, trouble breathing or clammy skin and the chills are indicators of even more serious issues

The study finds that 46 percent of nurses were unaware of some of these issues. While nurses typically share information about keeping newborns healthy and explain risks related to blood clots and high blood pressure, few discuss the mother’s health in detail. Heart problems are the leading cause of postnatal death and signs of heart attack in women are often much different from men.

The height of emotion

After giving birth, mothers focus attention on their children. It’s an exhausting and emotional period where it’s hard to consider your own needs. Similarly, many nurses do not want to share difficult medical details or overload your with information in a time of joy.

The study shows room for improvement, and it includes better techniques for nurses to use in educating their patients through conversation and take-home materials. In providing a list of warning signs, nurses can save mothers’ lives and raise awareness.

Protecting yourself

When you visit a hospital or clinic for any type of procedure, the expectation is that you will receive quality care from well-informed, licensed professionals. If negligence, early release, misdiagnosis or mismanagement of a medical condition causes you to suffer a serious injury, you should consult an experienced attorney to discuss your situation—it may be medical malpractice.

One of the best ways to protect your newborn bundle of joy is to stand up for your rights. If you feel something is not right, trust your instincts and request help or a second opinion.

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