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Women’s experiences of maternity service reconfiguration during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative investigation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number103116
Issue number103116
Early online date5 Aug 2021
Accepted/In press2 Aug 2021
E-pub ahead of print5 Aug 2021
Published1 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: Sergio A. Silverio, Abigail Easter, & Jane Sandall (King's College London) are currently supported by the National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration South London [NIHR ARC South London] at King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Jane Sandall is also an NIHR Senior Investigator (NIHR200306). Kaat De Backer (Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust) is currently supported by the National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration East of England [NIHR ARC East of England] at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. Funding Information: We would like to thank B. Mure & Dr. M. Greenfield for use of the illustrations contained within this manuscript, which were developed at a workshop titled: ?Becoming a Parent in Lockdown?, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and hosted by King's College London (November 2020). Publisher Copyright: © 2021 Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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Objective: To explore women’s experiences of maternity service reconfiguration during the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Design: Qualitative interview study.

Setting: South London, United Kingdom.

Participants: Women (N=23) who gave birth between March and August 2020 in one of the ten South London maternity hospitals.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted (N=23), via video-conferencing software. Transcribed interviews were analysed ‘by hand’ using Microsoft Word. Template analysis was selected to code, analyse, and interpret data, according to the findings of a recently-published national survey of maternity service reconfiguration across the UK in response to COVID-19.

Findings: Three main themes emerged through analysis: (i) Disruption to In-Person Care and Increased Virtual Care Provision, (ii) Changes to Labour and Birth Preferences and Plans, (iii) Advice for Navigating Maternity Services During a Pandemic.

Key Conclusions: Women reported mixed views on the reduction in scheduled in-person appointments. The increase in remote care, especially via telephone, was not well endorsed by women. Furthermore, women reported an under-reliance on healthcare professionals for support, rather turning to family.

Implications for Practice: We provide insight into the experiences of women who received antenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal care during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings should inform healthcare policy to build back better maternity care services after the pandemic. 

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