Postpartum Teaching Priorities: The Viewpoints of Nurses and Mothers

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To compare mothers' and nurses' perceptions of postpartum learning needs and effective teaching modalities.


Cross-sectional research design. Mothers were given a questionnaire during their postpartum stay to rate how important it was for them to learn about 44 maternal-infant topics before discharge. Nurses rated similar items on the basis of their perception of what is most important for mothers to learn during their postpartum stay.


Postpartum units in six hospitals that are part of a large midwestern health care system.


English-speaking women who delivered either vaginally or by cesarean section without complications and the nurses on their postpartum units.

Main Outcome Measures:

Identification of preferred topics and methods for postpartum teaching.


Mothers and nurses agreed that topics related to immediate physical health needs were most important. Unmarried mothers considered topics related to personal care and mobility as particularly important. First-time mothers rated more topics as important than did experienced mothers. Individual teaching was rated most effective by both groups. Classroom teaching and the use of audiovisual media were considered less effective.


This study supports postpartum education that focuses on the physical needs of mothers and infants, as well as individual teaching models. The special learning needs of new mothers, including those who are not married, must be considered.

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