Delivery Strategies for Postpartum Care: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Obstet Gynecol. 2023 Sep 1;142(3):529-542. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000005293.


Objective: To systematically review the effects of postpartum health care-delivery strategies on health care utilization and maternal outcomes.

Data sources: We searched Medline, EMBASE, CENTRAL, CINAHL, and for studies in the United States or Canada from inception to November 16, 2022.

Methods of study selection: We used duplicate screening for studies comparing health care-delivery strategies for routine postpartum care on health care utilization and maternal outcomes. We selected health care utilization, clinical, and harm outcomes prioritized by stakeholder panels.

Tabulation, integration, and results: We found 64 eligible studies (50 randomized controlled trials, 14 nonrandomized comparative studies; N=543,480). For general postpartum care, care location (clinic, at home, by telephone) did not affect depression or anxiety symptoms (low strength of evidence), and care integration (by multiple types of health care professionals) did not affect depression symptoms or substance use (low strength of evidence). Providing contraceptive care earlier (compared with later) was associated with greater implant use at 6 months (summary effect size 1.36, 95% CI 1.13-1.64) (moderate strength of evidence). Location of breastfeeding care did not affect hospitalization, other unplanned care utilization, or mental health symptoms (all low strength of evidence). Peer support was associated with higher rates of any or exclusive breastfeeding at 1 month and any breastfeeding at 3-6 months (summary effect size 1.10-1.22) but not other breastfeeding measures (all moderate strength of evidence). Care by a lactation consultant was associated with higher breastfeeding rates at 6 months (summary effect size 1.43, 95% CI 1.07-1.91) but not exclusive breastfeeding (all moderate strength of evidence). Use and nonuse of information technology for breastfeeding care were associated with comparable rates of breastfeeding (moderate strength of evidence). Testing reminders for screening or preventive care were associated with greater adherence to oral glucose tolerance testing but not random glucose or hemoglobin A 1c testing (moderate strength of evidence).

Conclusion: Various strategies have been shown to improve some aspects of postpartum care, but future research is needed on the most effective care delivery strategies to improve postpartum health.

Systematic review registration: PROSPERO, CRD42022309756 .

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Postnatal Care*
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Telephone