Maternal Health Task Force


Updated Guidelines on Managing Complications in Pregnancy and Childbirth

By: Sarah Hodin, Project Coordinator II, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

In June 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund released the second edition of “Managing Complications in Pregnancy and Childbirth: A Guide for Midwives and Doctors.” The nearly 500-page document updated the clinical guidelines from the first edition published in 2000.

The following sections of the manual were revised based on extensive consultation with maternal and child health experts:

Clinical Principles

  • Emotional and psychological support
  • Emergencies
  • General care principles
  • Antibiotic therapy
  • Operative care principles
  • Normal labor and childbirth
  • Newborn care principles


  • Vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy
  • Vaginal bleeding after childbirth
  • Elevated blood pressure, headache, blurred vision, convulsions or loss of consciousness
  • Fever during pregnancy and labor
  • Fever after childbirth
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Pre-labor rupture of membranes
  • Immediate newborn conditions or problems


  • Induction and augmentation of labor
  • Manual removal of placenta
  • Repair of vaginal and perineal tears

Read “Managing Complications in Pregnancy and Childbirth: A Guide for Midwives and Doctors.”

Access a summary brief from WHO and the Maternal Child Survival Program highlighting some of the revisions.

What are your thoughts on these revised guidelines? We want to hear from you!

Categories: Maternal Health


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