The postpartum period: the key to maternal mortality

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 1996 Jul;54(1):1-10. doi: 10.1016/0020-7292(96)02667-7.


Objectives: To assess postpartum care at an international level, we reviewed published literature on postpartum maternal deaths.

Methods: Meta-analysis was used to summarize the literature reviewed. Postpartum deaths in developing countries were compared with those in the United States.

Results: In both developing countries and the United States, > 60% of maternal deaths occurred in the postpartum period; 45% of postpartum deaths occurred within 1 day of delivery, > 65% within 1 week, > 80% within 2 weeks. In developing countries, 80% of postpartum deaths caused by obstetric factors occurred within 1 week.

Conclusions: The first 24 h postpartum and the first postpartum week is the high risk of postpartum deaths, and the risk remains significant until the second week after delivery. In developing countries, hemorrhage, pregnancy-induced hypertension complications, and obstetric infection are commonest causes of postpartum deaths. We suggest primary prevention, early detection, and secondary prevention of postpartum deaths.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Mortality*
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Primary Prevention
  • Risk Factors
  • United States