"I Felt Like it Would've Been Perfect, if They Hadn't Been Rushing": Black Women's Childbirth Experiences with Medical Providers when Accompanied by Perinatal Support Professionals

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Journal of Advanced Nursing


Aims This study examined the nature and characteristics of Black women's interactions with medical providers during childbirth when accompanied by a perinatal support professional (PSP; similar to a doula).

Design The design was qualitative, and a phenomenological approach was employed to examine the meaning of women's experiences.

Methods We conducted in-depth interviews with 25 Black women enrolled in a perinatal support program in Cleveland, Ohio, in late 2017 and early 2018, exploring their interactions with medical providers, the meaning of their experiences, and the roles their PSPs played.

Results Clients broadly categorized experiences as positive or negative. When medical providers respected them, their birth plans and/or collaborated with PSPs, women reported more positive experiences. They associated negative experiences with providers having their own timelines and agendas, and women perceiving their needs were unheard and/or disrespected.

Conclusion The findings emphasize the need for medical providers to be patient-centred, set aside assumptions, treat their patients as experts, value women's knowledge and voice, and treat patients and their supports as part of the team. Impact Findings support the importance of having a knowledgeable but non-medical support person present during birth. We discuss implications for how empowerment may be a tool to achieving better birth outcomes.


Funding for this research was provided by the Greater University Circle Community Health Initiative and the Cleveland State University Faculty Scholarship Initiative.