“We couldn’t talk to her”: A qualitative exploration of the experiences of UK midwives when navigating women’s care without language.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Women with little-to-no English continue to have poor birth outcomes and low service user satisfaction. When language support services are used it enhances the relationship between the midwife and the woman, improves outcomes and ensures safer practice. However, this study has shown a reluctance to use professional interpreter services by midwives. This study aims to understand the experiences of midwives using language support services. Design/methodology/approach: A maximum variation purposive sampling strategy was used to recruit midwives (N = 12) to a qualitative, semi-structured interview study. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings: Four themes were generated from the data analysis with a central organising concept of “Navigating Care Without Language”. These themes were: “Continuity as Key”, “Facilitating Tools”, “Networks of Support” and “Innovative Planning”. Each of these themes had between three and four sub-themes. It was found midwives are keen to support women with language barriers. However, support can be difficult due to the unavailability of equipment and resources; lack of continuity (of interpreter and midwife); inability to plan for the acute care of women who require interpreter services; and the system not being accessible enough to women who require language support services, thus causing them to fall through the net. Originality/value: Continuity of carer appears to be a protective factor due to the flexibility, relationship and continuum of support. This study will aid the development of education for undergraduate, post-graduate and practising midwives. It will also inform policymakers working to improve the service offered to women who speak little-to-no English.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-373
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare
Issue number4
Early online date22 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2021


  • Language Support
  • Midwifery
  • Healthcare
  • Interpreter Services
  • Maternity Care
  • Ethnicity


Dive into the research topics of '“We couldn’t talk to her”: A qualitative exploration of the experiences of UK midwives when navigating women’s care without language.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this