Cambodian migrant women's postpartum experiences in Victoria, Australia Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: to explore the postpartum experiences of Cambodian born migrant women who gave birth for the first time in Victoria, Australia between 2000 and 2010. DESIGN: an ethnographic study with 35 women using semi-structured and unstructured interviews and participant observation; this paper draws on interviews with 20 women who fit the criteria of first time mothers who gave birth in an Australian public hospital. SETTING: the City of Greater Dandenong, Victoria Australia. PARTICIPANTS: twenty Cambodian born migrant women aged 23-30 years who gave birth for the first time in a public hospital in Victoria, Australia. FINDINGS: after one or two home visits by midwives in the first 10 day postpartum women did not see a health professional until 4-6 weeks postpartum when they presented to the MCH centre. Women were home alone, experienced loneliness and anxiety and struggled with breast feeding and infant care while they attempted to follow traditional Khmer postpartum practices. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: results of this study indicate that Cambodian migrant women who are first time mothers in a new country with no female kin support in the postpartum period experience significant emotional stress, loneliness and social isolation and are at risk of developing postnatal depression. These women would benefit from the introduction of a midwife-led model of care, from antenatal through to postpartum, where midwives provide high-intensity home visits, supported by interpreters, and when required refer women to professionals and community services such as Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies (Victoria Department of Health, 2011) for up to 6 weeks postpartum.

publication date

  • July 2013

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