Delivering safer childbirth in India

Shivani is still deciding on her firstborn baby’s name. Thanks to the care she received at the Ranchi District Hospital in Jharkhand, India, she can spend time recovering and thinking about names with her husband, Amit.

The hospital where she delivered her baby participated in a program developed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with the India Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

This initiative focused on facilities that have a high number of patients, like Ranchi District Hospital, and targeted the six states that need the most support for maternal and newborn care, including Jharkhand.

The program developed a model that uses standard operating protocols, checklists, audit forms and regular quality improvement meetings.

Initial results showed a 20% reduction in stillbirths and neonatal deaths, prompting the government of India to promote the approach nationwide.

More information, better care

Before the initiative, Ranchi District Hospital staff were spread thin. There was little to no documentation of issues.

Starting in 2018, Sister Theresa and other hospital staff attended lectures and training on quality labor room care. The government of India provided the training and USAID provided access to technical assistance, job aids and supportive supervision.

“[W]e seem to have achieved a 90% patient satisfaction score in one year,” Sister Theresa said.

Indian woman holding baby next to woman in bed (Prakhar Rajoria/USAID)
Sister Theresa and other staff at the Ranchi District Hospital learned techniques to keep areas sanitary and respond to patient feedback. (Prakhar Rajoria/USAID)

Hospital nurses now help teach new parents skills like “kangaroo mother care” for skin–to-skin contact and temperature regulation — a critical intervention for small and sick newborns within the special newborn care unit.

Staff members also show parents how to safely feed, hold, clean, change and care for small newborns. Through this training and by moving the small and sick newborn units closer to the delivery recovery room, parents have a more hands-on role with their newborns even when they are hospitalized.

Involving mothers and family members in the care of newborns in the special newborn care unit:

  • Increases how quickly babies can be sent home.
  • Supports the bond between baby and mom.
  • Builds parents’ confidence to care for their newborns when they bring them home.

Involving new parents and sharing caregiving skills and demonstrations helps new parents like Shivani and Amit play an active role in the care of their newborn during the hospital stay. “Everyone is getting help here, and helping each other,” said Shivani.

A version of this article was previously published by USAID. Read the full USAID version.