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Providing maternity care for disadvantaged women in Aotearoa New Zealand: The impact on midwives

      Abstract

      Background

      Health inequities and socio-economic disadvantage are causes for concern in Aotearoa New Zealand. Becoming pregnant can increase a woman’s vulnerability to poverty, with the potential for an increase in multiple stressful life events. Providing midwifery care to women living in socio-economic deprivation has been found to add additional strains for midwives. Exploring the perspectives of the midwives providing care to women living with socio-economic deprivation can illuminate the complexities of maternity care.

      Aim

      To explore the impact on midwives when providing care for socio-economically disadvantaged women in Aotearoa New Zealand.

      Method

      Inductive thematic analysis was used to analyse an open-ended question from a survey that asked midwives to share a story around maternal disadvantage and midwifery care.

      Findings

      A total of 214 stories were received from midwives who responded to the survey. Providing care to disadvantaged women had an impact on midwives by incurring increased personal costs (time, financial and emotional), requiring them to navigate threats and uncertainty and to feel the need to remedy structural inequities for women and their wider families. These three themes were moderated by the relationships midwives held with women and affected the way midwives worked across the different maternity settings.

      Conclusion

      Midwives carry a greater load when providing care to socio-economically deprived women. Enabling midwives to continue to provide the necessary support for women living in socio-economic deprivation is imperative and requires additional resources and funding.

      Keywords

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