Scoping Review of Postpartum Discharge Education Provided by Nurses

Deborah McCarter, Alicia A. Law, Hannah Cabullo, Karlye Pinto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine what is known about postpartum education provided by nurses to women before discharge from the hospital after birth and whether current nursing practices are effective to prepare women to identify warning signs of complications, perform self-care (physical and emotional), prepare for parenting a newborn, and establish infant feeding. Data Sources: We conducted a systematic search of CINAHL Plus and MEDLINE for relevant sources, including peer-reviewed articles, conference presentations, and guidelines from professional organizations, that were published in English from January 2010 through November 30, 2020. Study Selection: We included sources if participants were women who had given birth to a healthy, liveborn, term infant and were receiving education in whole or in part by a nurse during the maternity hospitalization. We excluded sources with samples of high-risk women or those who gave birth to high-risk infants (preterm, congenital anomalies, neonatal abstinence syndrome). Forty-six of the sources met the inclusion criteria. Data Extraction: We extracted citation, type of document, country of origin, context (prenatal/postpartum or both and inpatient/outpatient or both), aim, participants (mother/father or both, sample characteristics), content of education and who provided it, outcomes or key themes, and main results. Data Synthesis: Infant topics included breastfeeding and safe sleep, and maternal topics included breastfeeding, postpartum mood, and self-care after birth. Nurses prioritized safety, including safe sleep; preventing infant falls; decreasing infection; screening for postpartum depression; and avoiding adverse outcomes after discharge. Women focused on self-care, pain management, infant care, and parenting. Women and nurses prioritized breastfeeding. Authors of the included sources measured effectiveness by patient satisfaction, chart audit, pre- and posttests of nurses’ knowledge, and breastfeeding duration. Women reported barriers to postpartum education such as limited nursing time or conflicting information. Conclusion: Postpartum education is a priority, but its effectiveness is not well studied. Few maternal or infant health–centered outcomes have been measured beyond breastfeeding duration. Nursing care and nurse expertise are not easily quantified or measured. Research is needed to inform best practices for postpartum education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-387
Number of pages11
JournalJOGNN - Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 AWHONN, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses


  • breastfeeding
  • education
  • mothers
  • nursing research
  • outcome assessment
  • parenting
  • patient discharge
  • postpartum period

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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