Facilitators and barriers of implementation of routine postnatal care guidelines for women: a systematic scoping review using critical interpretive synthesis

Lenka Beňová, Aline Semaan, Anayda Portela, Mercedes Bonet, Thomas van den Akker, Andrea B Pembe, Allisyn Moran, Diane Duclos

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BACKGROUND: Postnatal care (PNC) has the potential to prevent a substantial burden of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality. This scoping review aimed to identify and synthesise themes related to facilitators and barriers of implementation of guidelines on routine PNC for women (postpartum care) in all settings.

METHODS: This is a scoping review guided by the standard principles of Arksey & O'Malley's framework. We used the critical interpretive synthesis method to synthesise the whole body of evidence. We searched four databases (Medline, Embase, Global Health, CINAHL Plus) using a combination of search terms comprising four key concepts: postnatal care, routine care, guidelines and implementation. No restrictions on country or language of publication were applied. We excluded studies not presenting findings about PNC for women. We thematically charted the themes of studies included based on title and abstract screening. All studies included after full text screening were described and their results synthesised using the socio-ecological model framework. We did not conduct a risk of bias analysis or quality assessment of included studies.

RESULTS: We identified a total of 8692 unique records and included 43 studies which identified facilitators and barriers to implementing routine guidelines in provision of PNC to women. Three quarters of studies pertained to PNC provision in high-income countries. Specific facilitators and barriers were identified and thematically presented based on whether they affect the provision of PNC or the intersection between provision of PNC and its use by women and families. We applied a critical global health lens to synthesise three constructs in the literature: finding a balance between standardisation and individualisation of PNC, the fragmented PNC provision landscape complicating the experiences of women with intersecting vulnerabilities, and the heavy reliance on the short postpartum period as an opportunity to educate and retain women and newborns in the health system.

CONCLUSIONS: This interpretive synthesis of evidence shows that the fragmented and narrow nature of PNC provision presents specific challenges to developing, adapting and implementing routine PNC guidelines. This results in a lack of linkages to social support and services, fails to address intersecting vulnerabilities and inequities among women, and negatively influences care seeking. There is a lack of evidence on how processes of individualising PNC provision can be applied in practice to support health workers in providing woman-centered PNC in various global settings.

REGISTRATION: https://www.protocols.io/private/C99DA688881F11EBB4690A58A9FEAC02.

Original languageEnglish
Article number04176
JournalJournal of Global Health
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Pregnancy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Postnatal Care
  • Postpartum Period
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Health Personnel
  • Social Support


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