Objective: To describe the prevalence and causes of postnatal maternal morbidity.
Design: Questionnaire survey of postnatal patients. Further data extracted from SMR1 returns, case records and the Aberdeen Maternity and Neonatal Databank.
Setting: Postnatal care in a teaching maternity hospital, midwife delivery hospital, general practitioner maternity units and in the community.
Subjects: Twenty percent random sample of deliveries (1249 women) surveyed one week, eight weeks and 12 to 18 months after delivery.
Main outcome measures: Incidence of self reported maternal morbidity, treatment received, readmission rates and causes for readmission.
Results: Of mothers in the sample 85% (99% CI 82-88%) reported at least one health problem in hospital, rising to 87% (84-90%) of those at home; 76% (71-81%) reported at least one health problem after eight weeks post-delivery.
Conclusions: Maternal morbidity is extensive and under-recognised after delivery. Measures to reduce and alleviate it must be sought.