Objective: To explore mothers’ perspectives and experiences when facilitating greater flexibility in the planning range of home-based postpartum care, as an innovative tool to more client-centred care. Design: A qualitative study design with semi-structured in-depth interviews. Setting: The study was executed in collaboration with a postpartum care organisation in the Netherlands. It was part of a larger research project that studied the health effects of a new way of planning home-based postpartum care. This so-called ‘flexible planning’ made spreading and pausing of care possible up to the 14th day postpartum instead of the standard care planning up to the 8th day postpartum. Participants: Mothers eligible to be interviewed for this study were participants of the larger research project who were allowed to plan their care according to the flexible planning. Twenty-one mothers were recruited through purposive sampling, of which ten were first-time mothers. Findings: Mothers valued the flexible planning as the timing of care could be tailored to their personal preferences and contexts. Yet, two main challenges were found: 1. mothers experienced difficulties in communicating and translating their dynamic needs into a care planning and 2. they felt discomfort in assigning tasks to care workers. Besides, our findings showed that care workers’ practical as well as their emotional support (i.e. ‘doing’ vs. ‘being’) are greatly important in responding to mothers’ needs. Key conclusions: A flexible planning is a promising tool to facilitate more client-centred care in the postpartum care period. Yet, the hectic and overwhelming nature of the first few postpartum days can complicate the forward planning of care. In addition, not knowing what to expect from the postpartum care period and having a main focus on care workers ‘doing’ can lead to unclear and undesired working relations. Implications for practice: When planning care in practice, a dialogue should be held between care workers and parents in which both their fields of expertise are respected. Above all, our study elucidated that novel care innovations like ours need to be co-created directly from the start with all involved parties to truly be successful.
- Care planning
- Postpartum care