Background: Many studies on women's maternity care experiences reveal recurring issues that are poor or less than optimal. Women's opinions on the maternal health-related issues that matter most to them are essential if care and services are to be improved.
Aims: To identify the maternal health-related issues that matter most to women in Ireland, based on their own experiences of maternity care, services and motherhood.
Methods: A qualitative exploratory study with 24 women. Following university ethical approval, audio-recorded one-to-one telephone interviews were conducted and thematically analysed.
Findings: We identified two themes, each with four subthemes, connected to a central concept of the invisible woman. Pendulum of care, and subthemes Inconsistent services, All about the baby, Induced anxiety and Information seesaw, illustrated the extremes of care and services that women experienced. Magnitude of motherhood, and subthemes Weight of responsibility, Real-time reassurance, Change of identity and Growth into advocacy, depicted the intensity of their new role while transitioning to motherhood.
Discussion: Findings articulate the issues that mattered most to women in Ireland as they transitioned to motherhood. Some women identified specific research topics/areas, but all of the issues identified can be translated into researchable topics that seek to improve local care and service provision.
Conclusion: Given the recurring nature of women's less than satisfactory experiences of aspects of maternity care in many countries, it is likely that conducting research on issues that matters most to women will have the greatest impact on their health, wellbeing and lives as they transition to motherhood.
Keywords: Maternal health; Postpartum; Pregnancy; Transition to motherhood; What matters to women; Women’s opinions.
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