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Keywords:

  • intercultural caring;
  • maternity;
  • immigrant women;
  • mother;
  • new country;
  • Finland;
  • ethnography;
  • observation

ABSTRACT

Objective

To describe and interpret the perceptions and experiences of caring of immigrant new mothers from an intercultural perspective in maternity care in Finland.

Design

Descriptive interpretive ethnography using Eriksson's theory of caritative caring.

Setting

A maternity ward in a medium-sized hospital in western Finland.

Participants

Seventeen mothers from 12 countries took part in the study.

Methods

Interviews, observations, and field notes were analyzed and interpreted.

Results

Most mothers were satisfied with the equal access to high-quality maternity care in Finland, although the stereotypes and the ethnocentric views of some nurses negatively influenced the experiences of maternity care for some mothers. The cultural background of the mother, as well as the Finnish maternity care culture, influenced the caring. Four patterns were found. There were differences between the expectations of the mothers and their Finnish maternity care experience of caring. Caring was related to the changing culture. Finnish maternity care traditions were sometimes imposed on the immigrant new mothers, which likewise influenced caring. However, the female nurse was seen as a professional friend, and the conflicts encountered were resolved, which in turn promoted caring.

Conclusion

The influence of Finnish maternity care culture on caring is highlighted from the perspective of the mothers. Intercultural caring was described as universal, cultural, contextual, and unique. Women were not familiar with the Finnish health care system, and many immigrant mothers lacked support networks. The nurse/patient relationship could partly replace their support if the relationship was perceived as caring. The women had multiple vulnerabilities and were prone to isolation and discrimination if they experienced communication problems.