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Julie Wray
British Journal of Midwifery, Vol. 14, Iss. 5, 05 May 2006, pp 246 - 254

It is already known that for many women hospital postnatal care is the least satisfying and valued part of their maternity care provision (Audit Commission, 1997). Furthermore, it continues to be reported that research in the area of postnatal care has been neglected leading to an insufficient body of knowledge and evidence to support postnatal care (MacArthur et al 1991; Bick et al 2001; Wray 2002). There are major issues in relation to the content and organisation of postnatal care, yet there has been limited revision to service delivery, which is struggling to cope when faced with a shortage of midwives. This local study sought to involve service users, notably newly delivered mothers and an established users group in a participatory manner to explore mothers’ experiences of postnatal care. A number of important factors emerged that provide further insights into what matters to women after birth. Postnatal care at home was highly regarded and valued by mothers in this study, but concerns continued to be raised about postnatal hospital care. Fundamental components of service delivery in hospital such as cleanliness and hygiene, visiting arrangements, noise, rest and support for infant feeding and baby care were key findings. This paper presents an overview of the study, discussing aspects of the hospital stay and reflections on the study.

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