OBJECTIVE: To explore maternity care experiences and needs of women with various types of chronic medical conditions receiving specialised maternity care. Design A qualitative descriptive study.
SETTING: A highly specialised hospital providing maternity care to women with high-risk pregnancies in Copenhagen, Denmark. Participants Fourteen purposefully selected women referred to specialist maternity care at a large tertiary hospital due to one or more chronic medical conditions.
METHODS: Individual in-depth interviews (n = 14) were performed between January 2018 and June 2019. Analysed using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: One overarching theme was identified: Monitored but not sufficiently guided. Three main themes unfolding this overarching theme were: Chronic condition as determining pregnancy care, Childbearing woman as messenger and interpreter, and Feelings of abandonment after giving birth.
KEY CONCLUSIONS: Across various types of chronic medical conditions, women expressed a need for increased continuity in specialised maternity care. Healthcare professionals should help women with chronic medical conditions navigate the healthcare system and interpret complex information.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Pregnancy should be recognised as a significant life event, even though the childbearing woman is living with a chronic medical condition, and professionals should emphasise the aspects of pregnancy that develop uncomplicated. Information about the anticipated development of chronic medical conditions postpartum and concerns regarding breastfeeding could preferably be addressed during pregnancy. Continuity of care was particularly important to the women and could relieve some of the worrying women experienced during pregnancy.
- Antenatal care
- Chronic medical condition
- Healthcare experience
- Maternity care needs
- Qualitative research