Towards an evidence-based multidisciplinary guideline for postpartum care in Belgium
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Department of Midwifery, Odisee University of Applied Sciences, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium
Working Group Development of Primary Care Guidelines, Antwerp, Belgium
Department Family Medicine and Population Health, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Publication date: 2023-10-24
Corresponding author
Inge Tency   

Department of Midwifery, Odisee University of Applied Sciences, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A62
There is a trend towards a shorter hospital stay after normal birth. In Belgium, the length of postnatal stay has declined to 72 hours, meaning a shift to postpartum care at home, mainly provided by midwives. A multidisciplinary approach is needed to ensure continuity of care. Since clinical guidance regarding postnatal care is lacking in Belgium, a multidisciplinary guideline on postpartum care has been developed to optimize quality of care.

Material and Methods:
The ADAPTE procedure has been applied to develop the guideline. After a systematic search for (inter)national guidelines, methodological quality of selected guidelines was assessed, using AGREE, resulting in three included guidelines. The quality of the evidence was rated (GRADE). A consensus procedure (Delphi) was used to formulate ‘good practice points’ (GPP). Additionally, further literature search and contextualising was executed.

Together with stakeholders seven clinical questions were determined: PART 1: maternal and neonatal physical health; PART 2: information/support, neonatal examinations/screening, mental health, sexual health and baby’s feeding. Following the ADAPTE procedure, recommendations in part 1 for maternal (n=16) and neonatal (n=14) physical health were finalized and validated by the Belgian Centre for Evidence-based Medicine (CEBAM). Part 2 will be finalized end of 2023.

Evidence-based midwifery practice leads to improved health outcomes and reduced variability in quality and provision of care. This guideline is a step forward in optimizing maternal and neonatal follow-up in postpartum, including early detection of complications. Further attention to a sustainable implementation in postnatal care with collaboration of all engaged professionals is needed.

Co-authors of the guideline: Hedwig Neels, Gunnar Naulaers, Griet Van de Velde, Luc De Catte, Florence D’haenens, Anneke Vercautere, Marc Raes, Kaat Helsloot.
The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
National Institute for Sickness and Disability Insurance (RIZIV-INAMI).
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