The power of relationships: exploring how Public Health Nurses support mothers and families during postpartum home visits

J Fam Nurs. 2015 Feb;21(1):11-34. doi: 10.1177/1074840714561524. Epub 2014 Dec 9.


Postpartum home visiting by Public Health Nurses (PHNs) has been used by many health departments across Canada as a way of supporting new mothers and their families. Although positive health outcomes are linked with support from PHNs, little is known about how this occurs during the home visit. The purpose of this research was to explore how home visiting programs for mothers and babies were organized, delivered, and experienced through the everyday practices of PHNs, mothers, and managers in Nova Scotia, Canada. Feminist poststructuralism was used to guide the research and semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 16 PHNs, 16 mothers, and 4 managers. Participants described how relationships were an essential part of supporting mothers and families. These findings also challenge dominant health discourses and stereotypes that are often associated with mothering and the practice of PHNs with families.

Keywords: home visits; mothers; postpartum; public health nurses; relationships.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Family Health
  • Family Nursing
  • House Calls*
  • Humans
  • Mothers*
  • Nurses, Public Health*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Postnatal Care / organization & administration*
  • Professional-Family Relations