Background: Assessment of mothers in the year after childbirth is important for a number of reasons, including the well-being of the mother and healthy development of the child. There exists a body of instruments that measure a range of maternal characteristics, such as maternal confidence and self-efficacy. It remains unclear if any of these assessments can be used to measure maternal functioning, which may be a direct indication of potential hazards to the offspring. Accurate assessment of functioning would also aid in identifying women who are struggling in the maternal role. In order to assess whether commonly used maternal assessments extend into the realm of functioning, it is necessary to have an appropriate definition. Therefore, the aims of this analysis are to (1) present a new, patient-centered definition of maternal functional status and (2) evaluate select maternal assessments against this definition. Methods: Three new mother focus groups were held in order to understand women's experiences in the year after childbirth. These experiences informed the definition of maternal functional status, which was used to evaluate select instruments for their capacity to assess maternal functioning. Results: None of the instruments covered all seven domains, and all of the instruments covered at least one domain. Conclusions: Although there are means of assessing depression status in the postpartum, there is no comprehensive way of capturing a woman's quality of life. A new measure is required in order to capture this multifaceted, patient-defined construct of maternal functioning.
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