Women's perceptions of emotional support following childbirth: a qualitative investigation
Objective to describe perceptions of participating in a study testing the effectiveness of a perinatal emotional support intervention (Promoting Resilience in Mothers Emotions; PRIME) by women identified as experiencing emotional distress after birth. Design qualitative descriptive approach. Semi-structured telephone interviews with 33 women recruited as part of a larger RCT to test the efficacy of a counselling intervention (PRIME). Women who received either (1) the intervention (counselling (or PRIME)) (n=16), (2) active control (Parenting support) (n=12), or (3) matched control (standard care) (n=5), were interviewed at 12 months postpartum. Thematic analysis of data was used. Findings 'promoting reflection' and 'feeling cared for', were phrases that all participants used to describe their experience in the project regardless of group allocation. Women receiving PRIME reported 'getting in touch with (their) feelings' and 'moving on' as beneficial outcomes. Two women who received counselling reported 'having things left unresolved' indicating that their needs had not been met. Some women in both the active control and intervention identified that contact was 'nice but not hugely helpful or needed'. Implications and conclusions positive outcomes of PRIME were evident and most participants desired postpartum contact. Some women needed additional follow up and targeted assistance. Findings support the importance of providing personalised postnatal care that addresses women's emotional health needs.