Supportive encounters during pregnancy and the postnatal period: An ethnographic study of care experiences of parents in a vulnerable position

Marianne Stistrup Frederiksen*, Virginia Schmied, Charlotte Overgaard


Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

7 Citationer (Scopus)


Background: Pregnant women and partners with psychological and/or social challenges are exposed to adverse health outcomes. It is therefore recommended that they receive targeted maternity care services. The relationship between parents and professionals is key to help parents engage with services and experience them as supportive. However, more knowledge is needed on parents’ care experiences during encounters with professionals to further understand when and how these are experienced as supportive. Objectives: This study aimed at identifying the key elements of supportive care practices by exploring how parents in vulnerable positions experience their relationship and encounters with the professionals involved in their pregnancy and postnatal care. Design: Ethnographic fieldwork was conducted in a Danish municipality, including 50 semi-structured interviews with parents and 51 field visits during parent-professional encounters, including informal interviews and participant observation. Using a purposive recruitment strategy, 26 women and 13 men were recruited, who varied in age, socioeconomic background and vulnerability factors. COREQ reporting guidelines were used. Results: The analysis identified five themes: (a) Having a voice: Feeling listened to, (b) Being met with empathy: Feeling understood, (c) Worthy of attention: Feeling taken seriously, (d) On equal terms: Feeling like a normal family and (e) Moving in the right direction: Feeling reassured. Conclusion: Positive care experiences facilitate engagement with services and professionals as this contribute to parents feeling included, respected and safe. Conversely, negative care experiences leave parents feeling excluded, judged and anxious, potentially reinforcing and adding to existing feelings of anxiety and stigma. This requires that professionals have good communication skills and are able to approach parents in an open and non-judgmental way. Relevance to clinical practice: Understanding the significance of supportive care practices is paramount for health visitors, midwives and other professionals involved in providing for parents in vulnerable positions during pregnancy and the postnatal period.

TidsskriftJournal of Clinical Nursing
Udgave nummer15-16
Sider (fra-til)2386-2398
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2021


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