A randomised controlled trial of maternal satisfaction with the routine examination of the newborn baby at three months postbirth
Objective: to determine whether any differences in maternal satisfaction with the examination of a newborn baby between midwives and junior paediatricians are maintained over a three-month period. Design, setting and participants: randomised controlled trial. Eight hundred and twenty-six mother and baby pairs in a district general hospital in South East England were randomised to a junior paediatrician or a midwife for the routine examination. Four hundred and eighty-six mothers completed a maternal satisfaction questionnaire on day-one and again three-months later. Maternal satisfaction with the examination was analysed in relation to randomised group, process and background variables. Findings: high satisfaction with the examination was reported by most mothers (day-one: 82%; three-months: 79%). At day-one, mothers whose babies were examined by a midwife were more satisfied with the examination (crude odds ratio (OR) for the lowest tertile of satisfaction 0.49, 95% CI 0.32–0.73). However, after controlling for provision of health education during the examination (e.g. discussing feeding, sleeping and skin care) and continuity of care provided, maternal satisfaction was no longer related to status of examiner (adjusted OR 0.83, 95% CI 0.52–1.33). Three months later, there was no significant difference in maternal satisfaction with midwife and junior paediatrician examinations of the newborn baby (crude OR 0.89, 95% CI 0.58–1.37). Discussion of health-care issues by the examiner during the examination was significantly related to increased satisfaction even at three-months. Three month ratings of low satisfaction with the examination were most strongly predicted by current maternal depressive mood, even when other factors were adjusted for (adjusted OR 2.58, 95% CI 1.19–5.59). Key conclusions: from the mother's perspective, the quality of midwife examination is at least as satisfactory as that of junior paediatricians and this perception is maintained over a three-month period. Satisfaction can be significantly enhanced if the examiner provides information on behavioural and health-care issues. The examination of the newborn baby provides an important window of opportunity for sharing information on newborn behaviour and care issues.