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Supporting the transition to parenthood: Development of a group health-promoting programme

02 June 2018
17 min read
Volume 26 · Issue 6

Abstract

Background

Many Western countries have a strong record of obstetric safety; however, there are disparities in other indicators (such as morbidity) and best-practice outcomes, including breastfeeding rates and perinatal depression.

Aims

To pilot a multifaceted psycho-educational group programme for first-time parents.

Methods

This alternate-allocation study compared an intervention programme (n=10) and a comparison group (n=8) who received routine care with the addition of a weekly telephone call.

Findings

There were distinct differences between groups at follow-up, with the intervention group reporting lower depression scores and exclusive breastfeeding. Trends included positive adjustment to parenthood, perceived parenting competence and increased mother-infant attachment.

Conclusion

The intervention demonstrated benefits including learning opportunities, skills training and increased social capital.

High-quality perinatal care is of central importance to public health and the broader agenda for global health (ten Hoope-Bender et al, 2014). In antenatal care, the focal point has shifted from maternal physical health and fetal wellbeing to an increased awareness of psychosocial factors (Hildingsson et al, 2014). In Western nations such as the UK, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Ireland and Australia, various models of maternity care, including midwife-led, medical-led and shared care (Hatem et al, 2008) have been developed. In Victoria, Australia, women mostly receive maternity care through the public health system (Forster et al, 2016). Public maternity models such as shared-care (where a woman sees her GP for most appointments, and hospital doctors for key check-ups during pregnancy) or midwife-led care attempt to provide continuity of care and information provision, increased involvement of women in decision-making and normalisation of the birth process. Despite efforts to provide more holistic models of care, research still identifies shortcomings in service delivery, such as a lack of timely information and emotional support (Hildingsson et al, 2013).

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