Midwives’ Knowledge of Postpartum Care and Complications in Ghana

A hospital in Tamale, Ghana

Midwives, the primary maternity care providers in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, are instrumental in improving maternal/newborn health outcomes. The postpartum period (after birth) is a high-risk time frame for maternal deaths, and complications after delivery are the leading causes of maternal deaths worldwide. Midwives’ knowledge of postpartum care and potential complications determine the quality of care provided to women after childbirth, and is critical in the quest to decrease maternal mortality. In addition, it is essential that midwives provide education to the understanding of the patient on warning signs of potential complications after childbirth. This project is a survey of 245 midwives in the four main hospitals that provide inpatient maternity services in Tamale, Ghana. We assess midwives’ knowledge of postpartum care and post-birth warning signs, knowledge of immediate newborn care and management of complications, education provided to postpartum patients, and midwives’ perceptions of knowledge to teach patients about complications and skills to manage complications.

Peer-reviewed manuscripts from this project:

1. Adams, Y.J. & Ray, H. (2019). Knowledge of postpartum care and postbirth warning signs among midwives in Ghana. Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care. Doi: 10.1111/BIRT.12472

This study assessed midwives’ knowledge of postpartum care and warning signs of complications in Tamale, Ghana. The specific aims were to assess midwives’ knowledge of postpartum care, assess midwives’ knowledge of postbirth warning signs, and identify factors associated with knowledge of postpartum care and postbirth warning signs.

Results Summary:

The average number of correct responses on 10 questions related to postpartum care was 65.8%. Most midwives were knowledgeable about questions on breastfeeding. However, correct responses to questions on location of fundus (41.6%), postpartum examination (46.5%), and care during the first two hours postpartum (57.6%) were low

Midwives were asked to identify warning signs of postpartum complications: the overall average was 6.3 (out of 9) warning signs identified

Table from doi.org/10.1111/birt.12472

Only 28.1% of midwives identified all nine warning signs of complications. Knowledge of warning signs of life-threatening complications (pain in chest, obstructed breathing, thoughts of hurting oneself) were low. Years of experience was the only predictor of knowledge of warning signs of complications.

Two other manuscripts forthcoming …

Published by

Yenupini Joyce Adams

Yenupini Joyce Adams is Visiting Assistant Professor of Global Health in the Keough School of Global Affairs and affiliated faculty in the Eck Institute for Global Health at the University of Notre Dame. Her research passion is to improve maternal health, promote safe motherhood, and decrease maternal mortality and morbidity, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and U.S, where the burden of maternal mortality is greatest.

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