What mothers want: A postnatal survey
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Mothers in the public health care system undergo mandatory early discharge after childbirth. The challenges associated with the decreasing length of hospital stay have rarely been investigated from a service consumer perspective. The aim of this study was to identify mothers' needs in the immediate postpartum period. An inpatient survey of 500 postnatal mothers undertaking the Early Discharge Program. Survey questions aimed to elicit the needs of mothers in the immediate postnatal period; perceived barriers to optimal care; and suggestions as to how these barriers could be addressed. Forms were distributed to all women on admission to a postnatal ward over a two month period and completed prior to discharge. Of 500 eligible mothers, 151 (30.2%) responded to the anonymous open ended survey. A thematic analysis of comments revealed that women wanted specific information about mothering, the creation of a restful environment, adequate pain relief, practical assistance, education, and set visiting times. For new mothers, early discharge made the need for rest and information a high priority. Constraints within the public health care system and midwifery practice need to be examined to better serve mother's needs. Midwifery practice within the context of early postpartum discharge should seek to better serve new mothers by giving high priority for rest and information requirements.