Background. Although postnatal morbidity has been well documented in recent years, postnatal quality of life has not been addressed. A newly derived subjective measurement of postnatal quality of life (the Mother-Generated Index) combines a quantitative and qualitative evaluation.
Aims. This part of our pilot study aimed to compare the aspects of their lives nominated by women with low and high quality of life (Primary Index) scores, and to examine the respective importance of these areas.
Methods. The Mother-Generated Index was tested using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, Short Form 12, and an established maternal and neonatal physical morbidity index as validators. Four health visitors administered these at 6–8 weeks and 8 months postpartum to 103 women by structured face-to-face interviews between June 2000 and March 2001. Data were entered into Epi-Info, and exported to Microsoft Excel and SPSS for analysis.
Results. A wide variety of quality of life aspects were reported, including emotional, social and financial concerns. Tiredness was prevalent in all groups, but other physical problems were rare at 8 months. Mothers with low quality of life (Primary Index) scores at 6–8 weeks and 8 months commonly reported having less personal time. Low scoring areas, which health professionals might consider in greatest need of attention, were often not the ones mothers deemed most important.
Limitations. The study involved only 103 participants, and did not assess the degree of support experienced by the mothers.
Conclusions. The Mother-Generated Index helps mothers to identify the areas of their lives which are of most concern to them. This pilot suggests that mothers with high and low quality of life scores have markedly divergent experiences.