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Midwifery. 2007 Sep;23(3):248-59. Epub 2006 Nov 21.

A feminist exploration of Traveller women's experiences of maternity care in the Republic of Ireland.

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  • 1School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Dundee, Tayside Campus, Ninewells, Dundee, Scotland, UK.



to explore Traveller women's experiences of maternity care so that their needs might be identified and perceptions of helpful responses elicited.


feminist research methodology using unstructured non-directive interviews.


community setting in the Republic of Ireland.


snowball sample of 13 Traveller women aged 19-42 years. Each had experienced between two and eight pregnancies.


a fluid concept of culture affected Traveller women's expectations and negotiation of maternity care. The essential nature of familism, socialisation and religious beliefs, and the particular emphasis placed upon peer support, reflected cohesive and supportive aspects of culture. The concept of 'possessive individualism' was portrayed as conflicting with contraceptive use, the uptake of preventive care and women's reporting of mental-health problems. Majority norm expectations of breast feeding, husband participation and 'rooming in' were culturally unacceptable. Political and structural factors, such as the direct discriminatory barriers created by general practitioner services, indirect discrimination arising from dysfunctional communication and control of information, poor housing and lack of public transport were the basic causes of inequity of access to care.


midwives are challenged to respond sensitively to cultural preferences, meet informational needs and act as political advocates in efforts to improve maternity care experiences for Traveller women.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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