Supporting LGBTIQ+ Families as a Midwife

Supporting LGBTIQ+ Families as a Midwife

3-minute read

Midwives can gain a deeper understanding of how potential bias may impact LGBTQ+ families when accessing midwifery care and during their pregnancy and birthing journey.

Further education around how best to support LGBTQ+ families, as well as how to access appropriate and relevant resources, will ensure optimal midwifery care is provided.

 

Current Practice

A 2021 literature review revealed that midwives used their skills and knowledge to attempt to provide the care that families required, despite this, for LGBTQ+ parents their needs are often ‘hidden, ignored and poorly understood’.

While LGBTQ+ parents are a minority population, midwifery services should be providing supportive and comprehensive care for all birthing people. However, despite recent legislative and policy changes to reduce discrimination in the LGBTQ+ population, there still remains significant challenges to health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ birth families in Australia.

 

Considerations in Midwifery Practice

When accessing maternity care, the LGBTIQ community commonly report being ignored in appointments, birth units and postnatally or grouped with traditional male-partners in antenatal classes.

Consider how to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ families requiring midwifery care, including:

  1. Provided non gendered forms, signage and imagery - this shows there is no assumption of heterosexuality or gender identity
  2. Ensure all staff are using inclusive language when meeting families and tailoring their ongoing responses
  3. Clearly stating that any form of Considerations in Midwifery Practice When accessing maternity care, the LGBTIQ community commonly report being ignored in appointments, birth units and postnatally or grouped with traditional male-partners in antenatal classes. Consider how to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ families requiring midwifery care, including: discrimination will not be tolerated in the community or clinical space.

(Kerpolla et al, 2020; McCann et al., 2021; Tomlins, 2015)

For a comprehensive language guide with commonly used terms, see  https://www.vic.gov.au/inclusive-language-guide.

Key Messages

1. Respectful interactions

    Watch or listen for cues on appropriate terminology – this gives midwives the opportunity to build trust and establish a therapeutic relationship.

    2. Being aware of diversity

    Learn how LGBTQ+ families are created and what the postnatal family structure might look like

    3. Including partners

    Experiences of the non-birthing parent can be enhanced by acknowledging, including and supporting them throughout the pregnancy – this includes co-parents, surrogates or donors if there will be parenting involvement

    (Kerpolla et al, 2020; McCann et al., 2021)

    References

    Australian College of Midwives (ACM). (2020). Supporting LGBTQ+ Parents and Families. https://www.midwives.org.au/ItemDetail? iProductCode=LGBTQ&Category=ELEARN

    Hill, A.O., Bourne, A., McNair, R., Carman, M., & Lyons, A. (2020). Private Lives 3: The Health and Wellbeing of LGBTIQ people in Australia. https://www.lgbtiqhealth.org.au/private_lives_3_study

    Kerpolla, J., Halme, N., Perala, M., & Mai-Pietila, A. (2020). Empowering LGBTQ parents: How to improve maternity services and child healthcare settings for this community- ‘She told us that we are a good family’. Nordic Journal of Nursing Research, 40(1), 41-51. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2057158519865844

    McCann, E., Brown, M., Hollins-Martin., C. & Murray, K. (2021). The views and experiences of LGBTQ+ people regarding midwifery care: A systematic review of the international evidence. Midwifery, 103 (2021), 103102. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0266613821001820? via%3Dihub

    Rainbow Health Australia. (n.d.). Rainbow Tick. https://rainbowhealthaustralia.org.au/rainbow-tick

    State Government of Victoria. (2021). LGBTIQ Inclusive Language Guide. https://www.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-06/LBGTIQ-InclusiveLanguage-Guide.pdf

    Tomlins, J. (2015). Resource Kit for Rainbow Families. https://www.varta.org.au/sites/default/files/2020- 12/Resource%20kit%20for%20rainbow%20families.pdf

    World Health Organisation (WHO). (2023). Improving the health and well-being of LGBTQI+ people. https://www.who.int/activities/improving-the-health-andwell-being-of-lgbtqi-people

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