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Women's Perspectives on Maternity Services in Sweden: Processes, Problems, and Solutions

Authors

  • Ingegerd Hildingsson RNM, PhD,

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    • Ingegerd Hildingsson, RNM, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in Health Sciences at Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden, and researcher at Department of Women and Child Health, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

  • Jan E. Thomas MA, PhD

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    • Jan E. Thomas, MA, PhD, is Associate Professor of Sociology at Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio.


Ingegerd Hildingsson, RNM, PhD, Department of Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, SE-85170 Sundsvall, Sweden. E-mail: ingegerd.hildingsson@miun.se

Abstract

Most measures of health care quality focus on medical outcomes rather than patients' assessments of quality. Drawing on data from a national survey of Swedish women, this study describes women's opinions about what is important to them during pregnancy and birth. This qualitative study is based on responses of 827 pregnant women to an open question completed in the second trimester. In total, 2061 separate statements were analyzed. Using content analysis, these statements were clustered into 4 themes: desirable characteristics of midwife, prenatal care during pregnancy, care during labor and birth, and care after birth. Within those themes, 13 categories were found. Findings suggest areas for improvement in maternity services including: the timing and length of prenatal visits, making parent education classes available to all women, prelabor visits to the maternity ward, continuous information about the progress of labor, flexibility in time of discharge, and postpartum support for families. Women also stated that characteristics of the midwife, such as being supportive, friendly, attentive, respectful, and nonjudgemental, were important. A patient-centered and individualized approach, with women and their partners as the subjects rather than the objects of care, would increase satisfaction and the overall quality of maternity services in Sweden.

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