Discharge Education on Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Provided by Nurses to Women in the Postpartum Period

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2016 Nov-Dec;45(6):894-904. doi: 10.1016/j.jogn.2016.07.006. Epub 2016 Sep 23.


Objective: To explore what types of educational materials and discharge information are currently used by postpartum nurses to educate women about the warning signs of postpartum complications to determine what key messages should be presented to women after birth and before discharge.

Design: Exploratory qualitative.

Setting: Six hospitals located in New Jersey and Georgia.

Participants: Fifty-two nurses.

Methods: Six focus group discussions were conducted using a semistructured interview guide to elicit data on how and what nurses taught women about maternal post-birth warning signs. The focus group discussions were audiotaped, transcribed, coded, and clustered into categories.

Results: Most nurses described some of the warning signs related to maternal morbidity and mortality to the women; however, these elements were not the primary focus of the education throughout the hospital stay and were most often discussed on the day of discharge. Nurses also did not consistently describe the same signs and symptoms of the warning signs with each and every woman. The primary mechanism for education consisted of individualized instruction with booklets or folders of information.

Conclusion: These data indicate that improvements may be needed in how nurses educate women who just gave birth about the most common post-birth warning signs before they are discharged from the hospital. These findings also suggest that nurses need more information and guidance on how to teach all women about the post-birth warning signs.

Keywords: maternal morbidity; maternal mortality; postpartum discharge; postpartum education; quality improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Georgia
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Maternal Mortality*
  • New Jersey
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy