“Trying to Figure Out If You’re Doing Things Right, and Where to Get the Info”: Parents Recall Information and Support Needed During the First 6 weeks Postpartum

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Objectives The first 6 weeks postpartum represent a time of significant adjustment and learning for parents. Healthcare providers accurately understanding parents’ needs and preferences regarding support, education, and services during this critical time is essential for optimizing maternal and infant health. The first objective of this study was to explore parents’ experiences adjusting to the parenting role during the first 6 weeks postpartum. The second objective was to elicit from parents where and how they sought support and information during the early postpartum period, and what hindered this process. Methods Five focus groups were conducted with 33 mothers and fathers of young children, stratified by ethnicity, education, and income. An interdisciplinary team thematically coded verbatim transcripts and identified emergent themes. ResultsMain themes included low confidence in parenting and sifting through parenting information. Additional themes included communicating with partner about changing roles, breastfeeding, maternal mental health, and maternal postpartum recovery. Low parenting confidence was closely linked with information seeking, yet participants expressed being overwhelmed by the task of managing conflicting parenting information. Women reported that providers focused on infant needs, leaving them feeling unprepared for their own mental and physical health needs. Conclusions for Practice Parents report extensive needs for education and support in the early postpartum period, yet also report feeling overwhelmed by the quantity of parenting information available. These findings suggest parents need and desire reliable healthcare education after discharge that includes parent health and adjustment.


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