Preparing for Childbirth and Complications

Potentially life-threatening complications develop in about 15% of pregnancies, and all of these women need immediate care. Most complications cannot be predicted, but providers can help women and their families be prepared for them.

  • Help women arrange for skilled attendance at birth, and ensure that they know how to contact the skilled birth attendant at the first signs of labor.Pregnant woman in back of pickup truck
  • Explain danger signs during pregnancy and childbirth to women and their families (see Danger Signs During Pregnancy and Childbirth).
  • Help the woman and her family plan how she will reach emergency care if complications arise: Where will she go? Who will take her there? What transport will they use? How will she pay for medical help? Are there people ready to donate blood?
Danger Signs During Pregnancy and Childbirth

If any of these signs appears, the family should follow their emergency plan and get the woman to emergency care immediately.

  • Fever (38° C/101° F or higher)
  • Foul-smelling discharge from vagina
  • Severe headache/blurred vision
  • Decreased or no fetal movements
  • Green or brown fluid leaking from vagina
  • High blood pressure
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Convulsions, fainting
  • Severe abdominal pain
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