Maternity health care: The experiences of Sub-Saharan African women in Sub-Saharan Africa and Australia

Published:December 09, 2016DOI:



      Increasing global migration is resulting in a culturally diverse population in the receiving countries. In Australia, it is estimated that at least four thousand Sub-Saharan African women give birth each year. To respond appropriately to the needs of these women, it is important to understand their experiences of maternity care.


      The study aimed to examine the maternity experiences of Sub-Saharan African women who had given birth in both Sub-Saharan Africa and in Australia.


      Using a qualitative approach, 14 semi-structured interviews with Sub-Saharan African women now living in Australia were conducted. Data was analysed using Braun and Clark’s approach to thematic analysis.


      Four themes were identified; access to services including health education; birth environment and support; pain management; and perceptions of care. The participants experienced issues with access to maternity care whether they were located in Sub-Saharan Africa or Australia. The study draws on an existing conceptual framework on access to care to discuss the findings on how these women experienced maternity care.


      The study provides an understanding of Sub-Saharan African women’s experiences of maternity care across countries. The findings indicate that these women have maternity health needs shaped by their sociocultural norms and beliefs related to pregnancy and childbirth. It is therefore arguable that enhancing maternity care can be achieved by improving women’s health literacy through health education, having an affordable health care system, providing respectful and high quality midwifery care, using effective communication, and showing cultural sensitivity including family support for labouring women.


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