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Journal Article

Dec 6, 2023

Intrapartum Care | Complications

Neglected medium-term and long-term consequences of labour and childbirth: a systematic analysis of the burden, recommended practices, and a way forward


Summary: Over the past three decades, substantial progress has been made in reducing maternal mortality worldwide. However, the historical focus on mortality reduction has been accompanied by comparative neglect of labour and birth complications that can emerge or persist months or years postnatally. This paper addresses these overlooked conditions, arguing that their absence from the global health agenda and national action plans has led to the misconception that they are uncommon or unimportant. The historical limitation of postnatal care services to the 6 weeks after birth is also a contributing factor. We reviewed epidemiological data on medium-term and long-term complications arising from labour and childbirth beyond 6 weeks, along with high-quality clinical guidelines for their prevention, identification, and treatment. We explore the complex interplay of human evolution, maternal physiology, and inherent predispositions that contribute to these complications. We offer actionable recommendations to change the current trajectories of these neglected conditions and help achieve the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 3. This paper is the third in a Series of four papers about maternal health in the perinatal period and beyond.