Background: Maternal functional status is important to capture in the 12 months after childbirth, as this period marks a critical window for both mother and child. In most cases, mothers are the primary caregivers and are, therefore, responsible for the majority of the work related to infant care tasks, such as feeding, diaper changes, and doctor's appointments. Additionally, the quality of mother-child interaction in the year after childbirth affects child development. To date, postpartum functioning has exacted scarce coverage, with only one instrument claiming to measure the concept explicitly. This necessitated the development of the Barkin Index of Maternal Functioning (BIMF), which was designed to measure functioning in the year after childbirth. Methods: Three focus groups comprised of 31 new mothers were held to elicit women's concept of functioning in the first postpartum year. Women were asked to discuss the responsibilities associated with new motherhood as well as the circumstances surrounding high and low functioning periods. Results: The qualitative data produced by the focus groups were coded by emotive tone and content and translated into item construction for the BIMF, a 20-item self-report measure of functioning intended for use in the year after childbirth. Before implementation into the screening study, the BIMF was critiqued by a panel of experts and cross-checked with the literature to ensure that no major contextual domains were absent. Psychometric testing revealed adequate internal reliability and construct validity, and the BIMF has been implemented successfully in clinical settings. Conclusions: The high level of patient engagement and psychometric properties associated with the BIMF are indicative of its potential to become a valuable tool for assessing maternal wellness.
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