Document Type

SCU access only

Publication details

King, VM 2008, 'Midwives' and mothers' perspectives of postnatal care : a phenomenological approach', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright VM King 2008


The aim of the study was to discover the nature and effects of postnatal care from the perspective of midwives, who provided that care in a regional health care facility, and women, who had recently experienced that care as new mothers. A qualitative research approach was considered to be the most useful way to investigate the experience of postnatal care, with the particular methodology being that of phenomenology. Literature uncovered during the literature search process was categorised and reviewed, which included rationales for providing postnatal care; postnatal policies and practices; the strengths and limitations of postnatal practices; and suggestions for change and future directions. Philosophical approaches to phenomenology as a research methodology were described and analysed, as were some of the ways in which phenomenological studies have been used to advance nursing and midwifery knowledge. Data collection was by a series of conversational interviews with 15 midwife and 15 mother participants, who selfselected and agreed to have their interviews audiotaped and transcribed. Following transcription and checking of interviews, the context of each of the 15 midwife and 15 mother participants was outlined, followed by the researcher’s interpretation of the main characteristics of their postnatal situation. Thematic analysis was based on van Manen’s (1990) phenomenological approach to researching ‘lived experience’. Individual themes were collated across the postnatal experiences of all participants, with 44 different themes being revealed for the midwives and 34 for the mothers. The collective themes which emerged from the process of reading and re-reading the stories of the participants were also presented, together with illustrations from their stories. Further analysis then revealed the final themes of the study and illustrated the essence of the participants’ experiences. The seven final themes identified from the midwives’ stories were named as comforting; connecting; informing; facilitating; valuing; reflecting; and changing practices; with six final themes from the mothers’ stories named as reflecting; connecting; learning; valuing care; receiving care; and expressing concerns. Following this, a number of insights and implications for postnatal care practice, administration, education and research were drawn from the themes.