Background: The Newborn and Infant Physical Examination (NIPE) programme requires all babies to have a comprehensive health check at 6-8 weeks of age. These are typically completed by GPs. Although person-centred care has achieved prominence in maternity care policy in recent years, there is limited empirical evidence on what parents and/or carers expect from the check, and how far experiences meet their needs. Aim: To explore the expectations and experiences of parents attending their GP for a baby check. Design & setting: A qualitative study was undertaken in primary care in London. Method: Content analysis was undertaken of transcripts of semi-structured interviews. Interviews were conducted with a total of 16 participants (14 mothers and two fathers) who had recently attended for a 6-week check for their baby. Results: Despite the availability of plentiful sources of general advice on infants' health and development, a thorough check by a trusted GP was an important milestone for most parents. They had few specific expectations of the check in terms of what examinations were undertaken, but even experienced parents anticipated reassurance about their baby's normal development. Many also hoped for reassurance about their own parenting. Parents appreciated GPs who explained what they were doing during the examination; space to raise any concerns; and combined mother and baby checks. Referrals to secondary care were generally experienced as reassuring rather than a source of anxiety. Conclusion: The baby check meets needs beyond those of the NIPE screening programme. Protecting the time for a thorough consultation is important for parents at what can be a vulnerable time.
- general practice
- qualitative research