The experiential knowledge of migrant women about vulnerability during pregnancy: A woman-centred mixed-methods study

Elsevier, Women and Birth, Volume 35, February 2022
(Fontein)Kuipers Y.J., Mestdagh E.

Problem: Within maternity care policies and practice, pregnant migrant women are regarded as a vulnerable population. Background: Women's experiential knowledge is a key element of woman-centred care but is insufficiently addressed in midwifery practice and research that involves migrant women. Aim: To examine if pregnant migrant women's experiential knowledge of vulnerability corresponds with sets of criteria of vulnerability, and to explore how migrant women make sense of vulnerability during pregnancy. Methods: A sequential two-phased mixed-methods study, conducted in the Netherlands, integrating survey data of 89 pregnant migrant women and focus group data obtained from 25 migrant mothers - living in deprived areas according to the Dutch socio-economic index. Results: Criteria associated with vulnerability were reported by 65.2% of the participants and 62.9% of the participants reported adverse childhood experiences. On a Visual Analogue Scale, ranging from 0 (not vulnerable) to 10 (very vulnerable), participants self-reported sense of vulnerability showed a mean score of 4.2 (±2.56). Women's experiential knowledge of vulnerability significantly correlated with the mean sum score of clinical criteria of vulnerability (r .46, p .002) and with the mean sum score of adverse childhood experiences (r .48, p < .001). Five themes emerged from the focus group discussions: “Look beyond who you think I am and see and treat me for who I really am”, “Ownership of truth and knowledge”, “Don't punish me for being honest”, “Projection of fear” and “Coping with labelling”. Conclusion: Pregnant migrant women's experiential knowledge of vulnerability is congruent with the criteria. Calling upon experiential knowledge is an attribute of the humane woman-midwife relationship.