Background In high-income countries delivery usually takes place in a short-stay hospital setting and includes limited specific care after discharge. Perinatal system performance is therefore predominantly expressed in direct terms of delivery outcomes such as preterm birth (PTB), small for gestational age (SGA) or, in case of the mother, perineal rupture and haemorrhage. Additional postnatal complications may emerge, but their incidence is largely unknown. The Dutch obstetric system includes an 8–10 day episode of professional postnatal home maternity care. Our aim was to establish, under routine conditions, the incidence of a comprehensive set of 67 predefined complications and their predictors. A second aim was to address interaction between maternal and child complications. Methods The study design was a prospective cohort study of all clients of one large maternity care organization receiving home maternity care in November 2014. We combined maternal background and intrapartum and postnatal characteristics with complication data, routinely recorded by home maternity care assistants. Complication prevalence rates per postnatal day were calculated. Univariate and multivariable logistic regression were used to predict the presence of postnatal complications. Results Complications occurred throughout the entire episode of home maternity care and prevalence was high, with 55% of all mother-baby pairs experiencing at least one complication (e.g. cracked nipples, >10% weight loss of the baby) and 5% at least one major complication (e.g. mastitis, cyanosis of the baby). Predictive ability of maternal background and intrapartum and postnatal variables on presence of complications was moderate (max. 62.9%), even when a cumulative risk score was used. Conclusions The prevalence rates of maternal and neonatal postnatal complications with care as usual in high-income countries was higher than expected. Professional postnatal follow-up is to be considered in order to timely detect and manage emerging complications with minimal delay. Opportunities for risk-guided care should be investigated further. The pattern of complications in low-income countries remains to be established.

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Journal PLoS ONE
de Groot, N, Birnie, E, Vermolen, J.H. (Jolanda H.), Dorscheidt, J.J.A. (Jacqueline), & Bonsel, G.J. (2018). The prevalence of adverse postnatal outcomes for mother and infant in the Netherlands. PLoS ONE, 13(9). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0202960