Pregnancy and childbirth represent a critical time period requiring proper counselling about potential pregnancy complications. Women – especially those at risk – can be supported by a broad range of interventions that aim at reducing the risk of preterm birth and improving the health of mother and infant.
One aspect is that the regional organisation of perinatal care needs to be based on designated centres of care, categorised as specialist or non-specialist centres, specifying activity that is appropriate in each.(1–5) In order to manage women at risk, to prevent preterm birth, and to ensure appropriate care for preterm infants, differentiation between low-risk and high-risk pregnancies is important. One essential component of obstetric care is the education of pregnant women about signs and symptoms of preterm birth (6–9), as it fosters the early identification of women at risk for pregnancy complications and preterm birth.
In critical situations during the ante-, intra- and post-partum period, maternal and/or neonatal transfer may be required, as provision of specialist care may reduce the incidence of preterm birth and the associated fetal/neonatal and maternal complications. (5,10,11) As newborn infants born to women transferred antenatally have better outcomes than those transferred postnatally, the primary goal of perinatal centralisation is that women and newborn infants receive obstetric and neonatal care in appropriate facilities. (5,10,11) It is important to recognise that neonatal transports, when necessary, are a critical phase with specific needs for a specialised team and equipment to ensure maximal safety and efficiency. (12) Both maternal and neonatal transfer should be carried out in a timely, safe, and efficient manner, following the aim to avoid separation of mother and baby.
The Topic Expert Group on Birth and transfer develops standards on organisational aspects of perinatal care, including antenatal transport of the mother with her baby in the womb and adequate intra- and inter-hospital transport of the newborn baby. Furthermore, the standards focus on information provision and counselling about potential risk factors for preterm birth.