Registered nurses’ experiences of caring for pregnant and postpartum women in general hospital settings: a systematic review and meta-synthesis of qualitative data

Document Type

Journal Article


John Wiley & Sons Ltd


Nursing and Midwifery




This article was originally published as: Bayes, S., & Ewens, B. (2016). Registered Nurses’ experiences of caring for pregnant and postpartum women in general hospital settings: A systematic review and meta‐synthesis of qualitative data. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 26(5-6) 599-608. Original article available here.


Aims and objectives: To understand how nurses view and experience caring for pregnant and postpartum women in nonmaternity care settings.

Background: A degree of apprehension is perceived to exist among nurses in relation to caring for pregnant or postpartum women in nonmaternity care settings. The nature of nonmidwife nurses’ concerns about caring for this group of women in these contexts, however, is not known.

Design: A six-step systematic approach was employed for this review.

Methods: In Step 1, the research question was developed; Step 2 involved developing the inclusion criteria for articles; the literature search strategy was devised in Step 3; Step 4 comprised the conduct of the literature search and selection of articles for review; in Step 5, the critical appraisal of selected studies and synthesis of data was undertaken; interpretation of the findings occurred in Step 6.

Results: Following a process of elimination, the final number of articles retained for this review was three. Fifty-four Level 1 findings were extracted from these three articles which were subsequently collapsed into four Level 2 categories. Two Level 3 synthesised findings that characterise what is known about the topic of interest were then derived from these four Level two categories.

Conclusions: Nurses are reportedly ill prepared for the experience of caring for pregnant and postpartum women in general care settings. A combination of a lack of education and a need to ‘learn on the job’ reportedly evokes stress, trauma and a sense of professional inadequacy.

Relevance to clinical practice: This review identifies lack of knowledge and of adequate supervision for nurses in this context, which in turn poses a clinical risk to pregnant and postpartum women in their care. Effective strategies to establish initial and ongoing collaborative education and clinical practice guidelines are required.



Access Rights

Not open access