Black women in the United Kingdom are five times more likely to die from complications during
pregnancy and childbirth than their white counterparts. While the Nursing and Midwifery Council state
that it is a basic human right for every childbearing woman to receive the best and safest care possible,
Black women’s needs are continually not being met.
Following analysis of literature, examining the experiences of Black women utilising the maternity
services in the United Kingdom, three themes emerged concerning: (1) Staff Attitudes, (2)
Communication and Provision of Information and (3) Influence on Health Seeking Behaviours.
Instances of Black women reporting poor experiences within the maternity services of the National
Health Service are more common in comparison to those of white women. A lack of inclusion and
respect regarding the growing variety of cultures patients are bringing to the National Health Service,
is leaving women discouraged from using the services to their full advantage, and their needs not being
met. While expectations of care surrounding pregnancy and childbirth are socially and culturally
constructed, there remains a lack of understanding of the variety of cultural backgrounds and practices
which the women using the maternity services uphold.
While race refers to physical characteristics, ethnicity is much more complex. Cultural characteristics
including religion and social customs are drawn into ethnicity. To gain a better understanding of cultural
expectations of care, the phenomenon must be examined within individual ethnic and cultural groups –
rather than the umbrella term of ‘Black women’.
To address the gap in the literature the question posed is “What are the experiences of Somali women
using the maternity services within the National Health Service of Greater Glasgow and Clyde?”. The
study aims (1) to explore the expectations which Somali women have regarding the care they believe
they should receive within the National Health Service of Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s maternity
services (2) to explore the experiences of Somali women within these maternity services (3) to gain an
understanding of how Somali women perceive the care received within these services and (4) to make
a comparison between expectation of care and care received within these services.
Study Design & Method
An interpretive phenomenological approach will be taken in order to satisfy the aims of the study. Up
to ten Somali women will partake in this diary-interview study. From their first trimester of pregnancy,
participants will record events, emotions, expectations and experiences throughout their pregnancy,
childbirth and postnatal period. Three months following childbirth, semi-structured interviews will be
carried out individually with each participant - exploring in depth their expectations and experiences of
the care received when using the maternity services. Data from the diaries and semi-structured
interviews will then be analysed through interpretive phenomenological analysis.
Relevance to Practice
This study will allow Somali women to share both their expectations and experiences surrounding
maternity care provided by the National Health Service. This exploration will allow for a deeper
understanding of how the provision of care can be tailored to fit the needs of patients from all
backgrounds, both within the maternity services and in broader contexts.||en