Yasna Meldrum (midwife, counsellor): Parents-to-be are likely to encounter a number of people in the health care system. In the first instance somebody who will book them in for their pregnancy care, so that might be their GP. It might be a midwife if they’re coming straight to a hospital. Midwifery group practice is where you are cared for by a midwife, you can refer yourself via the maternity hospital, the GP can refer you. The benefit of having a person who’s caring for you, predominantly the same person – whilst it is a team of midwives who will be caring for you, you are predominantly cared for by your own midwife – is that that midwife gets to know the pregnant woman very, very well and so they’re able to establish a rapport. And one of the benefits of being able to establish that wonderful rapport is that there is quite a bit of evidence now that supports the notion that there is less intervention required when women set up really positive relationships with their health care givers during pregnancy.
Maryam (mother of Melika, 16 months): The health professionals that helped us through the whole pregnancy and birth, they were great, they were incredible. They were far beyond my expectations and they were very helpful. They took into consideration what we wanted and tried to help us get there.
Yasna Meldrum: Some people do have private health cover as part of their migration package, then they might encounter an obstetrician as well in the first instance. Then as they’re moving through their pregnancy they’ll encounter other health professionals like they’ll encounter pathology people, radiology staff. Outside of the hospital setting parents can certainly access services in community health centres where they’ll also have access to sometimes health care professionals who speak their language. They might have access to bicultural workers who are actually very familiar with the culture that they’ve come from and are familiar with the current system that they’ll be actually working in. So it just makes that transition for their care a lot easier for them. They can often expect information that’s written in their own language, depending on the language that they actually speak. If they speak a minor dialect then perhaps we may not have the information in that language. Certainly they can expect interpreters so they can be understood and they can have their needs catered to, and they can make requests for their own care as well. So for instance if they’re wanting a female carer they can certainly request that. They may not always get it depending on the staffing at the hospital, but they can certainly request it.
Maryam: I know of people who have used interpreters and it has helped them a lot during the whole pregnancy and birth. I think you can access them most health care services, especially community ones and most hospitals provide interpreters and also lots of GPs do as well. So they either call an interpreter or they book an outside one and they can be really helpful because then you would know, you could be sure that you’ve understood everything fully.
Yasna Meldrum: Interpreters are important because often the medical language can be very, very difficult to understand and where possible we try not to use families as interpreters. Families are great and they do sometimes need to take on that interpreter role, but where possible we try and get a qualified interpreter for them so that we know they get a good understanding of what they need to know and that we’re actually understanding what they’re telling us as well.