Exploring Sub-Saharan African women's experiences of maternity care in their home countries and in Australia

Author: Hlengiwe Mohale

Mohale, Hlengiwe, 2016 Exploring Sub-Saharan African women's experiences of maternity care in their home countries and in Australia, Flinders University, School of Nursing & Midwifery

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Increasing global migration is resulting in a culturally diverse population in the receiving countries. This diversity is also seen in the maternity health care settings in the host countries like Australia. In South Australia, hundreds of women from Sub-Saharan Africa give birth each year. To respond appropriately to the needs of these women, it is important to understand their experiences of maternity care. Despite the increase in Sub-Saharan African women using maternity care in Australia, there is limited Australian literature that explore the experiences of maternity care from the perspective of these women. Instead there are studies on women’s experiences of maternity care in other western countries. To bridge this gap in literature, this study aimed to examine the experiences of Sub-Saharan African women in relation to maternity care in their home countries and in Australia.

A qualitative approach was used to obtain an in-depth understanding of the women’s experiences of maternity care. Semi-structured interviews with fourteen women from Sub-Saharan Africa living in Adelaide who had birthed in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Australia were conducted. Thematic analysis of data using Braun and Clark’s method of analysis yielded four themes: 1. Access to services including health education; 2. Birth environment and support; 3. Pain management and; 4. Perceptions of care. The study found that the participant women’s previous experiences of maternity care in Sub-Saharan Africa influenced their experiences in Australia. The women experienced barriers in accessing maternity care. In Australia, they had communication problems and lack of familiarity with the Australian maternity care system while in Sub-Saharan Africa they were faced with the lack of availability of services, long distance to facilities and long waiting times which affected their access to maternity care. The study used an existing conceptual framework on access to care to clearly explain the findings on how the women experienced maternity care.

The study provides an understanding of the women’s experiences of maternity care. The findings of this research indicate that women from Sub-Saharan Africa have special maternity health needs shaped by their cultural and social orientation to pregnancy and childbirth. Therefore, this study suggests improvements in communication and provision of culturally appropriate maternity care to cater for these women’s needs. Further research on midwives’ experiences of caring for women from Sub-Saharan Africa has been recommended to broaden the understanding of the provision of maternity care for these women.

Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa,; Australia, maternity,; midwifery care, birth experience, access to care

Subject: Midwifery thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2016
School: School of Nursing & Midwifery
Supervisor: Associate Professor Linda Sweet