Background: Understanding a woman's perspective and her needs during childbirth and addressing them as part of quality-improvement programmes can make delivery care safe, affordable, and respectful. It has been pointed out that the patient's judgement on the quality and goodness of care is indispensible to improving the management of healthcare systems.
Objective: The objective of the study is to understand the aspects of care that women consider important during childbirth.
Design: Individual in-depth interviews (IDIs) and focus-group discussions (FGDs) with women who recently delivered were the techniques used. Seventeen IDIs and four FGDs were conducted in Jharkhand state in east India between January and March 2012. Women who had normal deliveries with live births at home and in primary health centres were included. To minimise recall bias, interviews were conducted within 42 days of childbirth. Using the transcripts of interviews, the data were analysed thematically.
Results: Aspects of care most commonly cited by women to be important were: availability of health providers and appropriate medical care (primarily drugs) in case of complications; emotional support; privacy; clean place after delivery; availability of transport to reach the institution; monetary incentives that exceed expenses; and prompt care. Other factors included kind interpersonal behaviour, cognitive support, faith in the provider's competence, and overall cleanliness of the facility and delivery room.
Conclusions: Respondents belonging to low socio-economic strata with basic literacy levels might not understand appropriate clinical aspects of care, but they want care that is affordable and accessible, along with privacy and emotional support during delivery. The study highlighted that healthcare quality-improvement programmes in India need to include non-clinical aspects of care as women want to be treated humanely during delivery--they desire respectful treatment, privacy, and emotional support. Further research into maternal satisfaction could be made more policy relevant by assessing the relative strength of various factors in influencing maternal satisfaction; this could help in prioritising appropriate interventions for improved quality of care (QoC).
Keywords: India; childbirth; delivery care; maternal; quality of care; respectful care.