Another country, another language and a new baby: A quantitative study of the postnatal experiences of migrant women in Australia

Julie Hennegan, Maggie Redshaw, Sue Kruske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Governments and service providers have consistently acknowledged the importance of support for women and families in the transition to parenthood. Lower levels of satisfaction and concern about postnatal depression have highlighted women's needs at this time. Migrant women may also face relocation, distant family and support networks, language barriers and potentially discriminatory or culturally insensitive care. 

Objective: The present study evaluates the unique contribution of migrant status, comparing the experience of this group to that of native-born English-speaking women. 

Method: Secondary analysis of data from a population-based survey of maternity care in Queensland. Experiences of 233 women born outside Australia who spoke another language at home were compared to 2722 Australian-born English-speaking women with adjustment for demographic differences. 

Results: After adjustment, differences between the groups included physical, psychological aspects and perceptions of care. Women born outside Australia were less likely to report pain after birth was manageable, or rate overall postnatal physical health positively. They more frequently reported having painful stitches, distressing flashbacks and feeling depressed in the postnatal period. Few differences in ratings of care providers were found, however, women born outside Australia were less likely to feel involved in decisions and to understand their options for care. However, they were more likely to report being visited by a care provider at home after birth. 

Conclusions: The findings represent an important addition to existing qualitative reports of the experiences of migrant women, reflecting poorer postnatal health, issues associated with migration and parenthood and highlighting areas for care improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e124-e133
Number of pages10
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


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