LINKOPING, Sweden — Fear of childbirth is exacerbated for lesbian and bi women and trans parents-to-be as trust tends not to develop between patient and health care staff as it more often does for straight people according to a new study in the journal Midwifery from researchers at Sweden’s Linkoping University. The results were published in a Eureka press release.
The study includes interviews with 17 people who identify as either lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Many of the interviewees state that they have numerous positive experiences of maternal care and obstetrics, but also negative experiences and minority stress, the stress experienced by people who challenge norms when they must repeatedly explain their relationship or are forced to deal with comments, misunderstanding or incomprehension.
The study’s conclusion is that lesbian and bisexual women and transsexual people with fear of childbirth are particularly vulnerable in health care. In order to help people with fear of childbirth, there must be trust between the healthcare staff and the patient. If instead the staff stress the patient more, for instance by assuming the patient is straight, this trust will never develop to a level where the fear of childbirth can be addressed.
Researcher Anna Malmquist says improving the situation for lesbian and bisexual women and transsexual people with fear of childbirth requires training. Health care staff must be familiar with the various groups they can encounter at work, keep in mind that not everyone is straight and understand what minority stress is.
“It’s not enough that health care staff feel they are open-minded in their interaction with this group. They need knowledge. These patients are already having a lot of difficulty with their fear of childbirth. They shouldn’t have to train their midwife as well,” Malmquist said.