Childbirth and Postpartum Care

URC is improving childbirth and postpartum services in several resource-constrained settings by examining task shifting for Caesarean sections; ensuring the proper and routine use of the partograph, a tool that monitors the progress of labor; improving the quality of essential and emergency obstetric care; and preventing postpartum hemorrhage through the routine and effective application of active management of the third stage of labor.  In all our work, we examine the crucial role that health workers and midwives play in providing basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. 

Childbirth and Postpartum Care at Work

In Ghana, through the USAID Systems for Health Project, URC is facilitating completion of the Essential Medicine List for maternal, newborn, and child health. The project is reproducing 5,000 copies of the approved list for distribution across five regions. Systems for Health also co-funds the small-scale introduction of oxytocin, in cold-chain storage, in health facilities in the Volta region.

Globally, through the USAID-funded Translating Research into Action (TRAction) Project, URC plays a leading role in testing innovative approaches to integrate family planning counseling and services into postpartum care and advocate globally for respectful maternal care in childbirth.

Emerging global literature, as well as URC’s field experiences, supports the importance of addressing several key factors that facilitate effective task shifting—a practice that can expand the reach of lifesaving services—in maternal and newborn care: Our experience suggests that task shifting should be considered as a part of the larger health system and designed to equitably meet the needs of mothers, newborns, children, and families. 

Additional emerging evidence indicates one reason for underutilization of skilled delivery care is that women confront a range of negative experiences during facility-based childbirth. URC has supported studies that describe and quantify disrespectful and abusive care related to facility-based childbirth in Tanzania, Kenya, and Guatemala and supported efforts to promote respectful maternal care with research into interventions that promote and supporting advocacy around respectful maternal care.