Background: Women at risk of preterm birth before 32 weeks gestation are routinely transferred to facilitate birth at a hospital that has Neonatal Intensive Care. The clinical outcomes of being ‘in-born” improves newborn and neonatal outcomes is well documented. However little is known about the women's experiences when such a complication occurs.
Method: Using the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation Patient and Carer stories method, 10 women were purposively invited and consented to tell their stories. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken during their inpatient stay and then again, by telephone in the months following their baby's due date. Themes were identified, illustrated by exemplars.
Results: All women were multiparous. Without exception, the women said that having the support of their family was the most important factor in coping with their unexpected hospitalisation and the anxiety of having to deal with the uncertainty of their pregnancy outcome. The most difficult aspect of their experience was the distress of being separated from their children and families and undue stress and distress from their partners. Other issues they identified were: physical difficulties during transfer; information overload as they sought to understand their changing circumstances; accommodation issues; and financial stress resulting from their relocation.
Conclusions: All women perceived their midwifery, obstetric and neonatal care to be exceptional and their neonatal outcomes were positive. Improvements may be made by facilitating family contact allowing flexible visiting, assisting with partner/family accommodation, providing women with their basic needs during transport and providing assistance to relieve financial strain.