Swedish researchers are calling for special training after a new study found midwives there treated lesbian patients and pregnant women with male partners differently.
These findings appear in the November issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Ten lesbians from 30 to 46 years of age, all of whom had experienced pregnancy and childbirth in the Swedish healthcare system, were interviewed about the care and treatment they received prenatally, during the birth and afterward. The study concluded that, too often, the midwives focused more on their lesbian patient’s sexuality than the fact that she was expecting a baby.
All women in the study reported that they had not been offered childbirth and parenting education classes, many assuming because their caretakers didn’t know how to handle two moms rather than the traditional mother-father unit.
A number reported that staff didn’t modify comments for same-sex couples, instead sticking to script and saying, “the father can go get coffee,” and “the father can sit here.” Others said they felt the burden to educate their midwives was on them rather than institutional training, which would clearly have been preferable. Said one interviewee: “I can come and talk about it later, but not when I’m there to have a baby. I’ll come and talk about it as a lesbian or a parent, but not when I’m a patient.”
In addition to the special training, researchers called for more neutral paperwork and healthcare routines, and also for special education groups exclusively for expectant lesbians and their partners.
That’s Sweden, but what about North America? What was your experience as a same-sex couple at pre-natal appointments with your OB or midwife? How did the hospital staff respond to you? Did you feel like you were treated differently than straight couples in childbirth class?