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Preconception, pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care

This section includes RHL summaries of published systematic reviews on various aspects of pregnancy and childbirth, including preconception care, management of miscarriage, antenatal care, medical problems in pregnancy, disorders that might affect the unborn baby, complications arising during pregnancy, the induction of labour, and the care of the mother and newborn during and immediately after childbirth.
Two health workers prepare a woman for delivery in a delivery room, Niger.

WHO recommendation on digital vaginal examination at intervals of four hours for routine assessment of active first stage of labour in low-risk women

Pregnant woman in labour lying on hospital bed.

WHO recommendation against routine vaginal cleansing with chlorhexidine during labour for the purpose of preventing infectious morbidities

WHO recommendation on administration of prophylactic antibiotics prior to skin incision, rather than intraoperatively after umbilical cord clamping, for caesarean section

 A midwife examining a pregnant woman during labour, Uganda.

WHO recommendation against routine vaginal cleansing with chlorhexidine during labour in women with group B Streptococcus (GBS) colonization for prevention of early neonatal GBS infection.

antibiotics tablets

WHO recommendation on antibiotic prophylaxis for caesarean section using a single dose of first generation cephalosporin or penicillin in preference to other classes of antibiotics

Female doctor talking to pregnant woman sitting on bed in hospital

WHO recommendation on intrapartum antibiotic administration to women with group B Streptococcus (GBS) colonization for prevention of early neonatal GBS infection.

Preconception care

A female community health worker councils a group of women on good health practices, Nepal

WHO recommendation on interventions to promote awareness of human, sexual and reproductive rights and the right to access quality skilled care


Injection vaccine closeup

Immunotherapy for recurrent miscarriage

Woman feeling lonely looking sun going down.

Follow-up for improving psychological well-being for women after a miscarriage

A young woman is aided by her mother and a nurse as she goes into early labour and miscarries her baby.

Expectant care versus surgical treatment for miscarriage

Antenatal care

WHO recommendation on interventions targeted at women for the reduction of unnecessary caesarean sections

WHO recommendation on antenatal care contact schedules

WHO recommendation on caffeine intake during pregnancy

Medical problems during pregnancy

WHO recommendation on antibiotics for asymptomatic bacteriuria

WHO recommendation on antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections

WHO recommendation on tuberculosis testing in pregnancy

Disorders affecting the unborn baby

Pregnant woman getting ultrasound from doctor

Routine ultrasound in late pregnancy (after 24 weeks’ gestation)

A medical doctor performs an ultrasound scan on a pregnant woman in Rwanda.

Ultrasound for fetal assessment in early pregnancy

Close-up of an "obstetric tape" used to determine the size of the uterus and to monitor the development of the baby.

Symphysial fundal height (SFH) measurement in pregnancy for detecting abnormal fetal growth

Pregnancy complications

Photo of a catheter

WHO recommendation on duration of bladder catheterization after surgical repair of simple obstetric urinary fistula

Pregnant woman sweeping the floor

WHO recommendation on birth preparedness and complication readiness

Induction of labour

Woman in labour stretching her back while seated on the edge of the bed.

Oral misoprostol for induction of labour

A health worker is measuring sugar level of a patient.

Induction of labour in women with gestational diabetes

Pregnant woman receiving intravenous oxytocin.

Methods of term labour induction for women with a previous cesarean section

Care during childbirth

illustration of episiotomy

WHO recommendation on routine antibiotic prophylaxis for episiotomy

Maternity room

WHO recommendation on routine postpartum maternal assessment

Mother with her newborn baby in a materity room.

WHO recommendation on postnatal discharge following uncomplicated vaginal birth

Postpartum care

A mother has her baby in close skin to skin contact right after birth, Mali.

WHO recommendation on skin-to-skin contact during the first hour after birth

Mother with her newborn baby.

WHO recommendation on breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth

Illustration of uterine tonus assessment

WHO recommendation on uterine tonus assessment for early identification of uterine atony