Introduction: There have been substantial alterations in the structure of postpartum care over the last several decades. Our aim was to investigate the perceived quality of, and satisfaction with, postpartum care among caregivers and care receivers in the maternity ward of a community hospital in Norway with about 2600 births per year.
Methods: We conducted a cohort study of women giving birth and the caregiving staff in the maternity ward during a 7-month period. A questionnaire, with a Cronbach α coefficient above 0.8, was filled in anonymously, both by the staff in the ward and by the women. The questionnaire explored the respondents’ evaluations of the information offered by the staff; the teaching of skills in child care and establishment of breastfeeding; assistance with practical tasks like making beds, serving meals, and keeping order in the room; visiting rules; level of noise in the ward; whether the pediatric service was adequate; length of the stay; and to what extent caregivers were able to respond to the individual needs of the mothers. Finally, the questionnaire explored the degree of kindliness communicated by the staff. Five extra questions in the women's questionnaire explored their personal experiences in the ward.
Results: The care receivers’ evaluations of the maternity ward did not differ significantly from that of the caregivers in questions related to overall care and service. However, the mothers rated the importance of assistance with child care during the night significantly higher than did the staff. Responses to questions addressing noise in the ward demonstrated a higher tolerance among the mothers compared with the staff. In addition, mothers tended (but not a statistically significant result) to rate the quality of the teaching of child-care skills lower, compared with the staff's ratings.
Discussion: By exploring both the caregivers’ and care receivers’ evaluations and expectations of the actual services in the maternity ward, areas for enhancement of the quality of the ward and its services can be detected and carried out. The present study revealed 2 areas needing further focus: assistance with child care during the night and teaching of child-care skills during the stay. We believe that investigations that collect data from both caregivers and care receivers, by using adapted and validated questionnaires to gather information on quality and satisfaction with the maternity ward, are mandatory for improvement and continuous adaptation of health services.