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Policy, evidence and practice for post-birth care plans: a scoping review.

Crowther, Susan; MacIver, Emma; Lau, Annie


Susan Crowther

Annie Lau


Background: Postnatal care continually attracts less attention than other parts of the childbirth year. Many regions consistently report poor maternal satisfaction with care in the post-birth period. Despite policy recommending post-birth planning be part of maternity services there remains a paucity of empirical evidence and reported experience using post-birth care plans. There is a need to report on post-birth care plans, identify policy and guideline recommendations and gaps in the current empirical research, as well as experiences creating and using post-birth care plans. Methods: This scoping review accessed empirical literature and government and professional documents from 2005 to present day to build a picture of current understanding of policy imperatives and existent published empirical evidence. The review was informed by the Arksey and O’Malley approach employing five stages. Results: The review revealed that post-birth care planning is promoted extensively in health policy and there is emergent evidence for its implementation. Yet there is a paucity of practice examples and only one evaluation in the UK. The review identified four over arching themes: ‘Positioning of post-birth care planning in policy; ‘Content and approach’ ; ‘Personalised care and relational continuity’; 'Feasibility and acceptability in practice’. Conclusions: Empirical evidence supports post-birth care planning, but evidence is limited leaving many unanswered questions. Health care policy reflects evidence and recommends implementation of post-birth care plans, however, there remains a paucity of information in relation to post-birth care planning experience and implementation in practice. Women need consistent information and advice and value personalised care. Models of care that facilitate these needs are focused on relational continuity and lead to greater satisfaction. It remains unclear if a combination of post-birth care planning and continuity of carer interventions would improve post-birth outcomes and satisfaction. Gaps in research knowledge and practice experience are identified and implications for practice and further research suggested.


CROWTHER, S., MACIVER, E. and LAU, A. 2019. Policy, evidence and practice for post-birth care plans: a scoping review. BMC pregnancy and childbirth [online], 19, article ID 137. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 31, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 25, 2019
Publication Date Dec 31, 2019
Deposit Date Apr 26, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 29, 2019
Journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Electronic ISSN 1471-2393
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Article Number 137
Keywords Post-birth; Postnatal; Care plans; Continuity; Personalised care
Public URL


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