Beyond birth: Women's concerns about post-birth care in an Australian urban community

Women Birth. 2016 Apr;29(2):153-9. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2015.09.006. Epub 2015 Oct 27.


Background: The provision of post-birth care in the community is changing substantially in many parts of Australia including Queensland, where there has been a burgeoning of clinics in private retail outlets such as pharmacies. Little is known about women's experiences of post-birth care in community pharmacies, nor of how their experiences compare with those in publicly-funded Child and Family Health Clinics (CFHC).

Aim: To provide qualitative insights into women's experiences of the different forms of post-birth care in the community, and identify where improvements could be made to service provision.

Methods: A purposive sample of mothers of infants aged under 12 months was recruited to maximise variation in the use of private and public postnatal care services. Semi structured interviews were conducted with fifteen mothers whose antenatal, birthing and post-birth experiences varied across public and private sectors and birthing providers.

Results: Concerns about lack of information and psychosocial support following discharge from hospital were widely reported, particularly by women who had given birth in a private facility under the care of a private obstetrician. Women used both pharmacy nurses and CFHCs. Pharmacy nurses were generally preferred for their accessibility, psychosocial support for mother, and continuity of care. However, these services are unregulated and without quality assurance mechanisms. Mothers found CFHCs regimented, focused on infant surveillance rather than support for mothers, and difficult to access.

Conclusion: There is a clear need for community post-birth care that will provide mothers with the information and psychosocial support they need. Currently, private, home-birth midwives and pharmacy nurses are providing women-centred care more effectively than nurses in publicly funded CFHC or GPs. This seems to be linked to continuity of carer, and to service priorities, resulting in inequities and systematic variations in the quality of post-birth care. Further research on this important health care issue is recommended.

Keywords: Community; Pharmacy nurse; Post birth care; Public and private sector; Women's experiences.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Midwifery / methods*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parturition
  • Pharmacies
  • Postnatal Care / organization & administration*
  • Postnatal Care / psychology*
  • Postpartum Period / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Queensland
  • Social Support
  • Urban Population