The experience of women from rural Australia with a preterm infant in a neonatal intensive care unit

Kerrie Lee Laidlaw, Ivanka Prichard, Linda Sweet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Downloads (Pure)


INTRODUCTION: This study aimed to understand the experiences of women from rural areas who have had a preterm infant admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit. The study population comprised five women aged 29-36 years who birthed a premature infant of less than 32 weeks gestation within the previous 6 months at the time of recruitment. The setting was in rural areas of Australia, in the states of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. 

METHODS: Semi-structured interviews using video-conferencing explored the experiences of the women and were analysed using thematic analysis. 

RESULTS: Four key themes were identified from the data: emotional trauma, social displacement, external coping resources and craving continuity of care. Social displacement further impacted the emotional trauma already experienced by women who birthed a preterm infant by temporarily relocating to the city to be near to their infant in the neonatal intensive care unit. This led to the utilisation of additional socioeconomic resources including support from extended family and rural community members. The women highly valued yet struggled to find appropriate peer support and continuity of health care for their infant within their rural community after discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit. 

CONCLUSION: Health professionals have an opportunity to explore ways to address social displacement, particularly in relation to socioeconomic support and the involvement of extended family into a family integrated care framework within the neonatal intensive care unit. The long-term effects of this on the mother-infant dyad and the lack of appropriate community support also require further examination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7440
Number of pages9
JournalRural and Remote Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2023


  • birth trauma
  • family-centred care
  • maternity care
  • midwifery
  • peer support
  • perinatal mental health
  • premature birth
  • social displacement
  • women’s health
  • Australia


Dive into the research topics of 'The experience of women from rural Australia with a preterm infant in a neonatal intensive care unit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this