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What is current practice in offering debriefing services to post partum women and what are the perceptions of women in accessing these services: A critical review of the literature

Baxter, J. D., McCourt, C. & Jarrett, P. M. (2014). What is current practice in offering debriefing services to post partum women and what are the perceptions of women in accessing these services: A critical review of the literature. MIDWIFERY, 30(2), pp. 194-219. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2013.12.013


Objective: The main research question is to describe current practice in offering debriefing services to postpartum women and learn about the perceptions of women accessing these services

Design: Critical review of the literature using a meta ethnography approach.

Findings: Twenty papers were identified. These included four surveys, three qualitative studies, one mixed methods study and three literature reviews. Nine randomised controlled trials (RCTs) provided additional information from alongside surveys and description of interventions. Two types of debriefing were identified: structured and unstructured. The more formal psychoanalytic forms took place within the RCTs whilst the unstructured discussion sessions commonly with midwives were identified in other research papers. In addition there is confusion amongst service providers about the nature of debriefing and what is delivered. Various aspects of providing a postnatal debriefing service were identified including the optimal timing, specific groups offered debriefing and the number of sessions offered. Postnatal debriefing enabled women to have their birth experiences validated by talking and being listened to and being provided with information. Finally from the limited literature identified relating to midwives’ perceptions of postnatal debriefing there was an overall feeling from midwives that they considered it to be beneficial to women.

Key conclusions: The findings of this literature review imply that women’s responses to receiving postnatal debriefing are generally positive. This review has found that women appear to value talking and being listened to by a midwife following birth. They seem to have a strong need to have their story heard. This discussion also allows the women to have questions answered and information given where necessary. The whole process places a seal on a woman’s birth experience which is validated.

Implications for practice: Although there is no evidence to suggest that postnatal debriefing reduces morbidity, women find the service of value. Maternity providers should consider offering a postnatal debriefing service to meet those needs in advance of further research in this area.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2014, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Publisher Keywords: Postnatal debriefing, Postnatal counselling, Posttraumatic stress, Midwives
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
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