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Title: A qualitative study exploring British Muslim women's experiences of motherhood while engaging with NHS maternity services
Author: Hassan, Shaima M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 9868
Awarding Body: Liverpool John Moores University
Current Institution: Liverpool John Moores University
Date of Award: 2017
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Women in the UK have access to NHS maternity services and most will attend hospital to give birth in the NHS. Much effort has been undertaken over several decades to improve childbirth and to enhance the experiences of those using NHS maternity services. However, while most women report positive experiences of maternity care, existing evidence suggests that women from ethnic minority groups in the UK have poorer pregnancy outcomes, experience poorer maternity care, are at higher risk of adverse perinatal outcomes and have significantly higher severe maternal morbidity than the resident white women (Puthussery, 2016; Henderson et al, 2013; Puthussery et al., 2010; Straus et al., 2009). Muslim women of child-bearing age make up a significant part of UK society, yet their health needs and their experiences of health services have not been extensively researched. The term ‘Muslim’ is often combined with ethnic group identity, rather than used to refer to people distinguished by beliefs, practices or affiliations. Muslim women commonly observe certain religious and cultural practices during their maternity journey and the little research there is in this area suggests that more could be done from a service provision perspective to support Muslim women through this, spiritually and culturally significant life event (McFadden et al., 2013; Alshawish et al., 2013). This study explores Muslim women’s perceived needs and the factors that influence their health seeking decisions during their transition to motherhood. Using a generic qualitative approach, seven English-speaking first time pregnant Muslim women and a Muslim mother who is second time pregnant but experiencing motherhood as a Muslim for the first time, were interviewed at different stages of their maternity journey (antenatal, post-labour and postnatal); five focus groups were conducted with Muslim mothers; and 12 semi-structured interviews were conducted with healthcare professionals. Thematic analysis of the transcripts revealed that Muslim women: 1) had a unique perspective on motherhood based on Islamic teaching; 2) sourced information from a number of sources, additional to midwives; 3) experienced difficulty expressing their religious requirements when preparing a birth plan; 4) assumed that healthcare professionals would have a negative view of Islam and Islamic birthing practices. While one-to-one interviews revealed that healthcare professionals: 1) varied in their perceptions of Muslim women; 2) had a general awareness of Muslim women’s Islamic practices but not specific to motherhood; 3) sourced cultural and religious information to enhance their understanding of women’s needs and their specific practices; 4) had some challenges when addressing women’s specific religious practices such as fasting; 5) would benefit from cultural/religious competency training that incorporates lived experience and group discussion. The implications for institutions, midwifery practice and further research are outlined. The study concludes that transcultural knowledge and specifically Muslim women’s worldview incorporated into healthcare professional training would enhance the competency and quality of healthcare services.
Supervisor: leavey, C. ; rooney, J. ; Birch, K. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine ; RG Gynecology and obstetrics