Objective: the aim of this study was to investigate new parents׳ experiences of early postnatal discharge.
Design: a meta-synthesis including 10 qualitative studies was conducted using Noblit and Hare׳s method of meta-synthesis development.
Setting: qualitative studies performed in western countries from 2003-2013 were included.
Participants: the 10 included studies involved 237 mothers and fathers, first time parents as well as multiparous.
Findings: we identified four overlapping and mutually dependent themes reflecting the new parents׳ experiences of early postnatal discharge: Feeling and taking responsibility; A time of insecurity; Being together as a family; and Striving to be confident. The mothers׳ and fathers׳ experiences of responsibility, security and confidence in their parental role, were positively influenced by having the opportunity to be together as a family, receiving postnatal care that included both parents, having influence on time of discharge, and getting individualised and available support focused on developing and recognising their own experiences of taking care of the baby.
Conclusions and implications for practice: the new parents׳ experiences of early discharge and becoming a parent were closely related. Feeling secure and confident in the parental role was positively or negatively influenced by the organisation of early discharge. This underscores the importance of the way health professionals support new mothers and fathers at early postnatal discharge.
Keywords: Early discharge; Experience; Meta synthesis; Parents; Postnatal care.
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