Immediate postnatal care following childbirth in Ugandan health facilities: an analysis of Demographic and Health Surveys between 2001 and 2016

Teesta Dey, Sam Ononge, Andrew Weeks, Lenka Benova

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INTRODUCTION: Progress in reducing maternal and neonatal mortality, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, is insufficient to achieve the Sustainable Developmental Goals by 2030. The first 24 hours following childbirth (immediate postnatal period), where the majority of morbidity and mortality occurs, is critical for mothers and babies. In Uganda,<50% of women reported receiving such care. This paper describes the coverage, changes over time and determinants of immediate postnatal care in Uganda after facility births between 2001 and 2016.

METHODS: We analysed the 2006, 2011 and 2016 Ugandan Demographic and Health Surveys, including women 15-49 years with most recent live birth in a healthcare facility during the survey 5-year recall period. Immediate postnatal care coverage and changes over time were presented descriptively. Multivariable logistic regression was used to examine determinants of immediate postnatal care.

RESULTS: Data from 12 872 mothers were analysed. Between 2006 and 2016, births in healthcare facilities increased from 44.6% (95% CI: 41.9% to 47.3%) to 75.2% (95% CI: 73.4% to 77.0%) and coverage of immediate maternal postnatal care from 35.7% (95% CI 33.4% to 38.1%) to 65.0% (95% CI: 63.2% to 66.7%). The majority of first checks occurred between 1 and 4 hours post partum; the median time reduced from 4 hours to 1 hour. The most important factor associated with receipt of immediate postnatal care was women having a caesarean section birth adjusted OR (aOR) 2.93 (95% CI: 2.28 to 3.75). Other significant factors included exposure to mass media aOR 1.38 (95% CI: 1.15 to 1.65), baby being weighed at birth aOR 1.84 (95% CI: 1.58 to 2.14) and receipt of antenatal care with 4+Antenatal visits aOR 2.34 (95% CI: 1.50 to 3.64).

CONCLUSION: In Uganda, a large gap in coverage remains and universal immediate postnatal care has not materialised through increasing facility-based births or longer length of stay. To ensure universal coverage of high-quality care during this critical time, we recommend that maternal and newborn services should be integrated and actively involve mothers and their partners.

Original languageEnglish
Article number004230
JournalBMJ Global Health
Issue number4
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • maternal health
  • obstetrics


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