Background: Universal postnatal contact services are provided in several Australian states, but their impact on women's postnatal care experience has not been evaluated. Furthermore, there is lack of evidence or consensus about the optimal type and amount of postpartum care after hospital discharge for maternal outcomes. This study aimed to assess the impact of providing Universal Postnatal Contact Service (UPNCS) funding to public birthing facilities in Queensland, Australia on women's postnatal care experiences, and associations between amount and type (telephone or home visits) of contact on parenting confidence, and perceived sufficiency and quality of postnatal care.
Methods: Data collected via retrospective survey of postnatal women (N = 3,724) were used to compare women who birthed in UPNCS-funded and non-UPNCS-funded facilities on parenting confidence, sufficiency of postnatal care, and perceived quality of postnatal care. Associations between receiving telephone and home visits and the same outcomes, regardless of UPNCS funding, were also assessed.
Results: Women who birthed in an UPNCS-funded facility were more likely to receive postnatal contact, but UPNCS funding was not associated with parenting confidence, or perceived sufficiency or perceived quality of care. Telephone contact was not associated with parenting confidence but had a positive dose-response association with perceived sufficiency and quality. Home visits were negatively associated with parenting confidence when 3 or more were received, had a positive dose-response association with perceived sufficiency and were positively associated with perceived quality when at least 6 were received.
Conclusions: Funding for UPNCS is unlikely to improve population levels of maternal parenting confidence, perceived sufficiency or quality of postpartum care. Where only minimal contact can be provided, telephone may be more effective than home visits for improving women's perceived sufficiency and quality of care. Additional service initiatives may be needed to improve women's parenting confidence.