Women who give birth in public hospitals are more likely than those in private hospitals to receive after-hospital health care which contributes to boosting their confidence levels as a new parent, according to a joint study by Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland
Associate Professor Yvette Miller from QUT's Faculty of Health and one of the authors of the study published in BMC Health Services Research said it was a misconception that a private hospital guaranteed better quality care, especially after birth.
"We found that compared with women in a private hospital, women who birthed in the public sector had six times the odds of being telephoned by a care provider, 34 times the odds of being visited at home and five times the odds of visiting a GP within 10 days of being at home."
Professor Miller said post-birth care differed greatly between the public and private sector throughout Australia, and the differences are particularly pronounced in Queensland.
"In public hospitals new mums are automatically referred to after-hospital health care and this has a corresponding positive association with maternal satisfaction," she said.
"Women who birthed in a public facility had twice the odds of being satisfied with the amount of postpartum care they received, than mums who birthed in a private facility."
Professor Miller said the length of hospital stay was not associated with satisfaction.
"It's commonly assumed that the longer length of time that women spend in hospital after a private hospital birth makes up for the lack of postnatal follow-up care in the private system.
"We found that increased length of hospital stay does not compensate for lack of contact following discharge."
Professor Miller said to improve maternal satisfaction with post-discharge postpartum care women should routinely have contact with a health professional within days of being home, regardless of length of hospital stay or sector of birth.
"All women, regardless of whether they birth in a private or public facility, should be able to speak with their GP, a midwife or nurse soon after they are first at home with their baby.
"Providing women with details of a person they can contact 24 hours a day if they have concerns will improve both satisfaction and confidence and is a simple and inexpensive first step to implement."
The study was based on the experiences of 6,400 Queensland mums.