Migrant Friendly Maternity Care in a Western Urban Centre

Gagnon, A.; Pelaez, S.; Merry, L.; Amiri, A.; Hendricks, K. (2015)

European Journal of Public Health

25(suppl.3) | On line

Background and Purpose

Migrant-sensitive care provision has been identified as a priority in the World Health Assembly Resolution, ‘Health of Migrants’. Little research has been done on the extent to which migrant-sensitive (‘friendly’) maternity care (MFMC) is currently being provided, factors that support or inhibit provision of such care, and whether specific components of MFMC may be more important than others. We sought to determine: (1) to what extent recommended components of MFMC are being provided to recently-arrived international migrant women giving birth in an urban Canadian city; and (2) what contextual factors support the implementation of MFMC.


We conducted a mixed quantitative-qualitative study of 2400 women recently giving birth, speaking any language, in Canada <8 years, and from non-Western countries; and 63 health professionals. Medical records and unit documents were reviewed. The Migrant Friendly Maternity Care Questionnaire was administered and open-ended interviews were completed.


Women from over 97 countries, speaking any of 79 languages reported on their perceptions of how the health system responded to their needs including communication facilitation, promotion of social support, education for healthy weight, treatment of pre-pregnancy/perinatal/maternal illnesses, early access to prenatal care, and responsiveness to preferences for care, among other indicators of MFMC. A range of professionals reported on challenges to care provision and how these were met.

Conclusions and Discussion

Empirical data on migrant-sensitive maternity care, contextual factors supportive of that care, and associated reproductive health outcomes offer baseline data for programming and to permit benchmarking nationally and internationally.

Key messages

  • Empirical data on migrant-sensitive maternity care offer baseline data for health programming

  • Migrant-friendly maternity care data allow for benchmarking for the future