BACKGROUND : Postnatal care begins immediately after the expulsion of the placenta and
continues for six to eight weeks post-delivery. High standard of care is required during the
postnatal period because mothers and babies are at risk and vulnerable to complications
related to postpartum haemorrhage and infections. Midwives and traditional birth attendants
are responsible for the provision of postnatal care in different settings, such as clinics and
hospitals, and homes.
METHODS : A qualitative, exploratory, descriptive and contextual research approach was
followed in this study. Unstructured interviews were conducted with the traditional birth
attendants. An integrated literature review was conducted to identify the Western postnatal
care practices. Tesch’s process was followed during data analysis.
FINDINGS : The following main categories were identified: similarities between indigenous and
Western postnatal care practices, and differences between indigenous and Western postnatal
care practices. Based on these findings, training of midwives and traditional birth attendants
was recommended in order to empower them with knowledge and skills regarding the
indigenous and Western postnatal care practices.
CONCLUSIONS : It is evident that some indigenous postnatal care practices have adverse effects
on the health of postnatal women and their newborn infants, but these are unknown to the
traditional birth attendants. The employment of indigenous postnatal care practices by the
traditional birth attendants is also influenced by their cultural beliefs, norms, values and
attitudes. Therefore, there is an urgent need to train midwives and traditional birth attendants
regarding the indigenous and Western postnatal care to improve the health of postnatal
women and their babies.