A group of Norwegian researchers asked 8 mothers living in crisis shelters as a result of intimate partner violence (IPV) what they thought midwives should do for pregnant women who suffer IPV.
3 of the women were Norwegian and the others were immigrants from other countries (Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, Poland, Spain).
Other research has shown that about 1 in 40 women in Norway are victims of IPV.
None of the women reported that they had any conversation with midwives about IPV but they all felt the opportunity should have been offered. They came up with a series of practical suggestions.
- Midwives must have strategies to provide solutions if they are going to raise the issue of IPV. The woman must know the midwife could actually help them if they disclosed IPV.
- There must be the opportunity to develop a trusting relationship with the midwife. This needs time – things cannot be hurried. For some pregnant women who are victims of IPV, the midwife might be the only person they see outside the abusive relationship.
- Midwives should raise the issue in the middle or end of the pregnancy. At the start there is too much else going on.
- There needs to be at least one session without the husband/partner present. This is a challenge to organise in the case of controlling partners who insist on being present at all times.
- In small rural communities where everyone knows everyone, it can be difficult for a woman to disclose concerns of this kind to a midwife also living in the community.
- Pregnant women should receive practical information, for example, what different forms of IPV are, that it is illegal, how to escape an abusive relationship and reassurance about common fears (e.g. that disclosure will not be believed or could result in the woman’s children being taken away).
- Access to information and support on-line is a possibility. For women who cannot safely do this from home as a result of monitoring of their internet use, a maternity service could provide opportunities for confidential on-line access within the antenatal service.
- Leave practical printed information around the antenatal clinic.
- Provide interpreters where language is a barrier to communication of such sensitive issues.
Lisa Maria Garnweidner-Holme LM, Lukasse M, Solheim M & Henriksen L (2017), Talking about intimate partner violence in multi-cultural antenatal care: a qualitative study of pregnant women’s advice for better communication in South-East Norway, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Photo: Zubin Patrawala. Creative Commons.