A new study by the Western Regional School of Nursing is considering the needs of new mothers in Newfoundland and Labrador with partners who go elsewhere to work.

"We want to explore the experiences of new mothers who have partners who work away for a long time, the support needs of these new mothers and potentially what the role of community health nurses could be in supporting these new mothers," said Holly LeDrew, a nurse educator and researcher at the nursing school.

The four researchers of the study have a background in community health nursing said LeDrew. Community health nurses support new moms through a program, Healthy Beginnings, where they visit and support new mothers with new babies in their homes.

The study has only interviewed a few people to date, but LeDrew said anecdotally they have found that new moms don't have the support they would have when they have a partner at home.

"When the partner is away for significant periods of time, that can become very challenging for them because they're suddenly like a single parent," said LeDrew.

Transition to parenthood

As for why the focus on new mothers, LeDrew said becoming a new parent is a challenging time for mothers.

"We're focusing on new moms because the literature supports that the transition to becoming a parent is a stressful and challenging time," said LeDrew. "They're learning how to become mothers and meet the needs of their young babies."

LeDrew hopes the study will inform policy makers in the future.

"We don't have the ability to change anything but policy in health care is based on research and best evidence," said LeDrew. "We're hoping our study will inform policy makers and potentially policy makers in community health nursing. Perhaps we can adapt or change to provide the support that these new moms need."

The study is targeting rural communities across the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador. LeDrew explained that larger communities including St. John's, Mount Pearl and Conception Bay South have been excluded because there is more support in those communities.