Somali immigrant women's health care experiences and beliefs regarding pregnancy and birth in the United States

J Transcult Nurs. 2012 Jan;23(1):72-81. doi: 10.1177/1043659611423828. Epub 2011 Nov 3.


Purpose: To describe Somali immigrant women's health care experiences and beliefs regarding pregnancy and birth.

Design: Four focus group interviews were conducted using a convenience sample of Somali women who were pregnant or had recently delivered. Qualitative thematic content analysis was used.

Findings: Six major themes emerged: pregnancy as a natural experience for women, value and relevance of prenatal care, lack of control and familiarity with delivery in the United States, balancing the desire to breastfeed with practical concerns and barriers, discomfort with mental health issues, and challenges in the healthcare system.

Discussion: Somali immigrant women perceive, interpret, and react to Western health practices from a perspective that includes their cultural, religious, and "scientific" beliefs.

Implications: Implications include cultural competency workshops. Educational materials and prenatal education sessions that support the women's needs have been developed for this population and should be a focus of future research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Cultural Competency
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Islam
  • Maternal Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Maternal Welfare / psychology*
  • Maternal Welfare / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Qualitative Research
  • Somalia / ethnology
  • Tape Recording
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Women's Health / statistics & numerical data*