Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women's experiences accessing standard hospital care for birth in South Australia – A phenomenological study

Angela E. Brown, Jennifer A. Fereday, Philippa F. Middleton, Jan I. Pincombe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, hereafter called Indigenous women, can experience a lack of understanding of their cultural needs when accessing maternity care in the standard hospital care system. Aim To explore the lived experiences described by Indigenous women accessing labour and birth care in the standard hospital care system at a tertiary public hospital in South Australia. Methods An interpretive Heideggerian phenomenological approach was used. Indigenous women who accessed standard care voluntarily agreed to participate in semi-structured interviews with Indigenous interviewers. The interviews were transcribed and analysed informed by van Manen's approach. Findings Thematic analysis revealed six main themes: “knowing what is best and wanting the best for my baby”, “communicating my way”, “how they made me feel”, “all of my physical needs were met”, “we have resilience and strength despite our hardships” and “recognising my culture”. Conclusion Indigenous women in this study expressed and shared some of their cultural needs, identifying culturally unsafe practices. Recommendations to address these include the extension of current care planners to include cultural needs; Aboriginal Maternal Infant Care (AMIC) workers for women from rural and remote areas; AMIC workers on call to assist the women and midwives; increased education, employment and retention of Indigenous midwives; increased review into the women's experiences; removal of signs on the door restricting visitors in the birth suite; flexibility in the application of hospital rules and regulations; and changes to birthing services in rural and remote areas so women may not have to relocate for birth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-358
Number of pages9
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Aug 2016


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • Birth
  • Cultural safety
  • Culture
  • Indigenous
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery

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