Increasing numbers of women are referred to specialist antenatal clinics with the aim of optimising the management of complications that threaten the well-being of a mother and her baby. To provide appropriate psychological and emotional support within maternity care, the authors must first understand the experiences of the care recipients.
Following ethical approval participants were recruited at referral to a specialist clinic in a tertiary referral centre in the North West of England. A purposive sample of six women with pregnancies at risk of placental disease, were included.
A qualitative method using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach was used. A longitudinal approach has been applied to understand women's evolving experiences and needs. Data was collected through three semistructured interviews, from referral through to the postnatal period. A thematic analysis was conducted to identify the emerging phenomena.
Significant themes include the need for individualised care; recognition of the pregnancy complication and the impact on other life events and relationships; preparation and effective information giving. A common relationship between the identified themes is communication. Effective and appropriate communication underpins a woman's experience, from referral to a specialist clinic, throughout the antenatal period and into the postnatal period.
The findings illuminate the need to develop appropriate communication strategies which should be viewed in the wider context of participants' individual lives.
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