Continuity in antenatal care : exploring perceptions of care and emotional experiences : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology (Health Psychology) at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Perspectives and value systems inform views of antenatal care and childbirth, influencing how they are understood and organised. Professional, academic, institutional and cultural views all influence what maternity care is considered to be, how it should be delivered, and how the experiences and outcomes associated with it are measured. The objective of this study was to analyse women's lived experiences of antenatal care in the NHS. In particular, I sought to understand how the continuity of the care women received influenced women’s experiences, with the aim of identifying areas for improvement with respect to well-being and satisfaction with care. I conducted semi-structured interviews with 6 women who were within 24 months of childbirth. I analysed transcribed texts using a reflexive thematic approach, undertaken through a social constructionist lens. I developed three themes in the analysis. These were: the impacts of poor communication, the impacts of not being heard, and fear of the unknown. Participants emphasised the need for a person-centred care model, and more specifically a midwife-led continuity of care model. Early antenatal care and late antenatal care were identified as two critical periods of care when women require the greatest levels of advocacy and support. Based on this analysis, the NHS maternity framework could make improvements to information organisation and sharing, the encouragement of active patient participation in care, and the promotion of shared decision-making. Greater attention to how holistic perspectives and medical perspectives could be blended to broaden understandings of what successful birth experiences could be, is required to validate women's antenatal needs and subsequently improve maternity care outcomes.