WHO Prioritises Maternal Mental Health in New Guidelines

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched its first ever global guidelines to support women and newborns in the postnatal period - the first six weeks after birth. This is a critical time for ensuring newborn and maternal survival and for supporting healthy development of the baby as well as the mother's overall mental and physical recovery and wellbeing.

Maternal mental health has been prioritised with universally recommended screening for and prevention for maternal depression and anxiety during the postnatal period. For the first time, WHO has also issued recommendations for universal screening of newborns for abnormalities, hearing impairment, and hyperbilirubinemia. These screening interventions will need effective systems for referral confirming diagnosis, management of the conditions and follow ups.

These recommendations complete a trilogy of guidelines from WHO for quality maternity care through pregnancy and during and after childbirth, centred on meeting the needs of all those who give birth and their babies. These uphold the rights to a positive healthcare experience, where people are treated with dignity and respect and can participate actively in healthcare decisions.

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