Objective: To identify challenges that women face 2-9 months postpartum using qualitative data gathered by the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS).
Methods: PRAMS is an on-going population-based surveillance system that collects self-reported information on maternal behaviors and experiences before, during, and after the birth of a live infant. We analyzed free text comment data from women in 10 states who answered the PRAMS survey in 2000. Preliminary analysis included a review of the comment data to identify major themes and a demographic comparison of women who commented (n = 3,417) versus women who did not (n = 12,497). Subsequent analysis included systematic coding of the data from 324 women that commented about postpartum concerns and evaluation to ensure acceptable levels of reliability among coders.
Results: We identified the following major themes, listed in order of frequency: (1) need for social support, (2) breastfeeding issues, (3) lack of education about newborn care after discharge, (4) need for help with postpartum depression, (5) perceived need for extended postpartum hospital stay, and (6) need for maternal insurance coverage beyond delivery.
Conclusion: The themes identified indicate that new mothers want more social support and education and that some of their concerns relate to policies regarding breastfeeding and medical care. These results can be used to inform programs and policies designed to address education and continuity of postpartum care for new mothers.