Women's expectations and experiences of maternity care in NSW—what women highlight as most important

Mary G Jenkins, Jane B Ford, Jonathan M Morris, Christine L Roberts
Women and Birth 2014, 27 (3): 214-9

BACKGROUND: Although surveys have identified that women are generally highly satisfied with maternity care provision, those aspects of care that women highlight as most important for achieving satisfaction and a satisfactory maternity care experience have not been reported. The aim of this study was to investigate how women understand and experience their maternity care and to report which aspects of care women highlight as most important.

METHODS: This large qualitative study explored women's expectations and experiences of maternity care provision. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 53 women experiencing maternity care in a range of tertiary, regional, rural, remote hospitals and midwife-led practices in the state of New South Wales, Australia during 2011-2012. Included in the interview schedule was the question 'What 3 aspects would you see as most important for delivery of maternity care?' Descriptive analyses of entire transcripts and responses to the question on most important aspects of care were undertaken.

RESULTS: Descriptive analyses of women's responses identified 5 important aspects of care: woman-focused care, staff qualities, systems and facilities, family-focused care and continuity of care/information. First-time mothers were more likely to identify woman-focused care, staff qualities and continuity of care/information as important aspects than multiparous mothers. Urban and regional mothers highlighted staff qualities as having greater importance for satisfaction with their care while rural and particularly remote women nominated systems and facilities as important.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study showed that women from a range of settings are more concerned with staff and relational issues than facilities. Differences in perceptions among primiparous versus multiparous women, at different stages of pregnancy and among women from rural and remote compared to urban settings highlight the need to include women with a diversity of experience when trying to understand the aspects of maternity care most important to women.

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