The Journey Through Childbirth Pain: The Experiences of Indian and Vietnamese Women Living in Australia

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Taylor, Davina (2020) The Journey Through Childbirth Pain: The Experiences of Indian and Vietnamese Women Living in Australia. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Background: Pain associated with childbirth is severe and women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds tend to have less than optimal access to pain management during this period. This lack of access is a concern, as in Victoria, Australia, one in three pregnant women has been born overseas. Many are from India or Vietnam and speak languages other than English. At the same time, there is little research in Australia considering childbirth pain from the perspectives of immigrant women. Aims: The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of childbirth pain (including during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum) from the perspective of Indian and Vietnamese women living in Australia. Design: A qualitative approach, using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), was employed to explore participants’ pain experiences. IPA was chosen because it moves beyond pure description to explore the deeper meaning of experiences. Methods: Twenty-four pregnant women born in India or Vietnam participated in two in-depth interviews (prenatal and the postpartum). Findings: Two core themes, a culture in transition and universal experiences, emerged through the trajectory of pregnancy, birth and the postpartum. Cultural factors influenced participants’ information seeking, responses to labour pain, and decision making about pain relief. Similar factors shaped the postpartum experiences, with participants deciding whether to follow cultural customs that were aimed at preventing pain in later life. Ultimately, decisions about childbirth pain were informed by a fusion of personal choice and cultural customs within the background of a new environment. The second theme indicated that women, regardless of ethnicity and culture, had similar experiences. All desired reassurance as the birth approached. Women who had positive psychosocial support during birth and were satisfied with their experience of pain felt empowered. When women felt inadequately supported and fearful, they made decisions which later led to regret, disappointment and dissatisfaction with their experience of childbirth. Conclusion: Overall, this study has provided new insights into the experience of childbirth pain. Specifically, women from India and Vietnam experienced a transition in culture whilst preparing for and managing childbirth pain. It is anticipated that the knowledge gained from this study will enrich our understanding of this experience and generate better awareness of pregnant Indian and Vietnamese women’s needs related to childbirth pain. This thesis provides foundational information to support healthcare professionals to understand the dynamic landscape in which women from CALD backgrounds prepare for and manage childbirth pain. This understanding will inform future decisions. Ultimately, this information may help to inform care and to provide meaningful support for immigrant women.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1114 Paediatrics and Reproductive Medicine
Historical > FOR Classification > 2002 Cultural Studies
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords childbirth; pain; women; Indian; Vietnamese; culturally and linguistically diverse; CALD; pain management; Australia; immigrants; interpretative phenomenological analysis; first-time mothers; pregnancy; birth; postpartum
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