Background: Refugee women experience higher incidence of childbirth complications and poor pregnancy outcomes. Resettled refugee women often face multiple barriers accessing pregnancy care and navigating health systems in high income countries.
Methods: A community- based model of group pregnancy care for Karen women from Burma was co-d esigned by health services in consultation with Karen families in Melbourne, Australia. Focus groups were conducted with women who had participated to explore their experiences of using the program, and whether it had helped them feel prepared for childbirth and going home with a new baby.
Results: Nineteen women (average time in Australia 4.3 years) participated in two focus groups. Women reported feeling empowered and confident through learning about pregnancy and childbirth in the group setting. The collective sharing of stories in the facilitated environment allowed women to feel prepared, confident and reassured, with the greatest benefits coming from storytelling with peers, and developing trusting relationships with a team of professionals, with whom women were able to communicate in their own language. Women also discussed the pivotal role of the bicultural worker in the multidisciplinary care team. Challenges in the hospital during labor and birth were reported and included lack of professional interpreters and a lack of privacy.
Conclusion: Group pregnancy care has the potential to increase refugee background women’s access to pregnancy care and information, sense of belonging, cultural safety using services, preparation for labor and birth, and care of a newborn.
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