Health and social circumstances of women admitted to a private mother baby unit: A descriptive cohort study

Jane R.W. Fisher, Colin J. Feekery, Lisa H. Amir, Marilyn Sneddon

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Background: The health and social circumstances of economically advantaged mothers who are caring for infants with unsettled behaviour or feeding difficulties has been under investigated. Methodology: An observational survey of consecutive admissions to one private hospital's mother baby unit in Melbourne admitted with infant feeding or sleeping problems. Results: Of 146 eligible participants, 109 (75%) completed the questionnaire. All had partners and previous employment in the professional/managerial sector. There were low rates of previous psychiatric illness, family history of psychiatric illness, childhood sexual abuse or current domestic violence, despite which most felt currently unwell. They had experienced high rates of reproductive difficulties, (6.5% IVF conception, 25% invasive prenatal testing, 26% antenatal admission, and 53% operative delivery). Many (52%) perceived their postnatal obstetric care as unsatisfactory. Breastfeeding problems were common (29% had experienced mastitis). Severe sleep deprivation associated with frequent infant night time waking was universal. Partner's working hours greatly exceeded the community average and many women felt under supported and unable to confide in their partners. More than half reported serious, coincidental life events. Conclusion: Some economically advantaged mothers experience such significant postpartum ill health they seek hospital admission.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Family Physician
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes

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