To use an intersectional approach to analyze women's reflections on how their migration and resettlement experiences to Sweden influenced their health and healthcare needs during childbearing.
Focus-group discussions, pair interviews and individual interviews were conducted in southern Sweden between 2006 and 2009, with 25 women originating from 17 different countries with heterogeneous backgrounds that had experienced childbirth in Sweden. Qualitative content analysis was used with an intersectional approach, taking into consideration intersections of ethnicity, socio-economic status (SES) and gender.
The hardships of migration, resettlement, and constraints in the daily life made the women feel overstrained, tense, and disembodied. Being treated as a stranger and ignored or rejected in healthcare encounters was devaluing and discriminating. The women stressed that they felt stronger and had fewer complications during pregnancy and labor when they were "taken seriously" and felt that they had a confident, caring relationship with caregivers/midwives. This, therefore, enabled the women to boost their sense of self, and to recognize their capabilities, as well as their "embodied knowledge".
Caregivers/midwives should be aware of the hardships the women face. Hardships stem from experiences of migration and resettlement as well as from structural constraints such as the "triple jeopardy" of ethnicity, SES and gender, which increase women's needs of support in childbearing. Such awareness is necessary when promoting health and reducing the unnecessary suffering and victimization of women, their children, and their families. It is a matter of patient safety and equity.