Objective: to investigate the provision of parent education during the early postnatal period in order to gain insight that, through stakeholder collaboration, will contribute to the development of innovative strategies to enhance the provision of postnatal education in a contemporary health-care environment.
Design: the study comprises the first stage of an action-research project. The first stage of research sought to explore the experiences of mothers and fathers in the early postnatal period by conducting a questionnaire within 4 weeks of the birth of their baby. The data obtained from the questionnaire is to inform an action-research group for stage two of the project.
Setting: The Children, Youth and Women's Health Service, a large city maternity hospital in South Australia, covering a range of socio-economic strata.
Participants: 85 parents completed and returned the questionnaire, comprising 52 mothers and 33 fathers.
Measurement: an anonymous self-report questionnaire was purpose designed to provide each parent with an opportunity to reflect on their own experience, with particular emphasis given to the provision of education and support during the early postnatal period.
Findings: a number of themes emerged, including a window of opportunity during the postnatal hospital stay to provide education and support, despite the reduction in the length of stay; the need for a family-centred approach to maternity services; and the significance of self and social network in the early transition to parenthood.
Conclusions: The findings from this stage of the research, combined with a review of the literature, provide insight that will contribute to stage two of the study. At this stage, an action-research group will continue planning to develop specific actions to enhance the provision of education to parents in the early postnatal period. These actions will subsequently be implemented and assessed.