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Intercultural Caring From the Perspectives of Immigrant New Mothers


  • Disclosure: The authors report no conflict of interest or relevant financial relationships.


Anita Wikberg, MNSc, RM, RN, Department of Caring Science, Åbo Akademi University, PB 311, 65101 Vaasa, Finland.



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


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


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


Seventeen mothers from 12 countries took part in the study.


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


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.


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.