"It's not me, it's them": how lesbian women make sense of negative experiences in maternity care: a hermeneutic study

Elaine Lee, Julie Taylor, Fiona Raitt

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    37 Citations (Scopus)


    Aim. The paper is a report of one aspect of a hermeneutic study of lesbian women’s experiences of maternity care, specifically interpretations of negative experiences. Background. There is a growing body of literature in relation to lesbian women’s experiences of maternity care. Although most commentators discuss the negative experiences encountered by lesbian mothers, there has been no contextual analysis of these expressions of negativity in an increasingly positive environment. Methods. The study was undertaken using a qualitative approach using an adapted Gadamerian hermeneutic phenomenology using unstructured interviews with eight women. The interviews took place between November 2007 and March 2008. All of the participants had disclosed their sexual orientation in pregnancy. Snowball sampling was used. The data were then analysed using an iterative hermeneutic framework. Findings. The participants not only described their experiences of maternity care as being positive but also offered examples of negative experiences. These were analysed separately to explore the ways in which the women made sense of them in the context of an otherwise positive experience. These experiences were expressed in ways that distanced the negative and that seemed to rationalize behaviour or ascribe it to the health professional. Conclusions. Negative encounters with health professionals are processed by women in a way that protects their overall experience. Health professionals in maternity care should consider the impact of negative responses to lesbian mothers and the effect that it has in reducing the overall quality of this significant life event
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)982-990
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Lesbian mothers
    • Maternity care
    • Midwives
    • Hermeneutic phenomenology


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