Objective: To assess parents' experiences and satisfaction with care during very preterm birth and to identify domains associated with positive and negative experiences of care.
Design: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews.
Setting: Three neonatal units in tertiary care hospitals in South-East England.
Population: Thirty-two mothers and seven fathers who had a baby born before 32 weeks of gestation and spoke English well.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted. Results were analysed using thematic analysis.
Main outcome measures: Participants' experiences and satisfaction with care during the birth of their preterm baby.
Results: Overall, 80% of participants were extremely satisfied with the care during the birth of their preterm baby, seven were generally satisfied but felt some things could be improved and one was dissatisfied. Four key determinants of experiences of care were identified: staff professionalism, which included information and explanation, being calm in a crisis, appearing confident and in control, and conversely not listening to the woman; staff empathy, which included caring and emotional support, and encouragement and reassurance; involvement of the father; and birth environment.
Conclusions: Although the determinants of experiences of care are generally consistent with previous research on term births, unique factors to preterm birth were identified. These were the importance of the staff appearing calm during the birth, and the staff portraying confidence and taking control during the birth. Women valued being listened to, and both they and their partners valued staff helping fathers to feel involved during the birth.
© 2013 The Authors BJOG An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology © 2013 RCOG.