New mothers' experiences of postpartum care - a phenomenological follow-up study

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SummaryThe aim of this study is to explore and describe the new mother's experiences of postpartum care. It is part of an ongoing clinical longitudinal research project studying experiences of health, suffering and care and the organizational culture of Finnish maternity care.Postpartum care is seldom either technological or dramatic and has been shown to take low priority in both practice and research.This article uses the theoretical perspective of Eriksson as a basis for discussing insights gained from the phenomenological study.Nine women were interviewed at the end of their pregnancy, and 3 weeks, 3 months and 2 1/2 years after giving birth.The research approach was that of Colaizzi, which has its roots in phenomenological philosophy, and which attempts to present accurately the lived experiences of those studied.Data suggest that the transitional process from being an expectant mother to being a new mother occurs slowly but intensely in a unique way during the first days after the baby is born.The new mother experiences caring communion in sharing her life situation with the midwife, learning directly through the midwife's teaching and indirectly when the midwife enables her to be in peace and quiet together with her baby and family.Other new mothers are caring towards the woman reciprocally, sharing the same situation, helping one another and learning together.Three challenges in postpartum care emerge from this study. These are to understand the meaning of caring, to involve family and other new mothers more consciously, and to see the woman as a new mother who needs both to care and be cared for both by her family and friends and by professional carers.

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