Experiences of nurses returning to work after the second/third childbirth and organizational support in Southeastern China: A qualitative exploration

Huiwen Ye, Ping Zou, Daniel D’Souza, Wenjing Xu, Xiaowen Shen, Zhengzhou Zhang, Chunmei Zhang


Background: Since China encounters challenges of the aging population, especially a decrease in the working-age population, the Chinese government officially ended the one-child policy and has implemented the second/third child policies. This study aimed to explore nurses’ experiences, the supports they received from hospitals, and the supports they expected when returning to work after the second/third childbirth.

Methods: Asynchronous focus groups and one-on-one in-person interviews were held with nurses from three hospitals in Wenzhou city who had returned to work within three months following their second/third childbirth. Data collection and analysis were conducted using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a guiding framework.

Results: Twenty-three nurses were included in this study. Themes emerged around five needs, including physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Regarding these needs, nurses expressed receiving some support, including support from managers and colleagues and flexible scheduling assignments. However, there was also a lack of other supports, including dedicated time and space for breastfeeding, parental leave, nearby and affordable childcare, unit assignment and working schedules considering individual circumstances, mental health support, and opportunities for professional development.

Conclusions: Our findings highlight the necessity to dedicate resources to support the diverse needs of returning nurse mothers such that they can balance family life and work. While longer-duration studies with larger sample sizes in other regions of China are needed, our findings also suggest future studies on exploring third childbirth experiences, evaluating supportive interventions, and creating a specific theoretical model on the comprehensive needs of nurses returning to work after childbirth.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v13n8p8

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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