“We are in this together” – Polish midwives’ reflections on perinatal care for Ukrainian women after the outbreak of war
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Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland
Submission date: 2022-07-22
Final revision date: 2023-03-07
Acceptance date: 2023-03-08
Online publication date: 2023-04-17
Publication date: 2023-08-22
Corresponding author
Natalia E. Murawska   

Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland
Health Psychology Report 2023;11(3):177–187
February 24, 2022, the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was also the beginning of an exceptional situation and a challenge for the Polish health care system, the health care workers and Polish citizens. This study aims to conduct a qualitative analysis of midwives’ experiences of maternity care for Ukrainian women after the outbreak of war.

Participants and procedure:
Eight midwives with experience working with both Ukrainian patients and Ukrainian war refugees (who came to Poland after February 24, 2022) participated in a semi-structured interview. The interview data were transcribed and thematically analysed to identify the observations, challenges and medical personnel needs.

The most frequently observed reactions in Ukrainian patients included crying, increased anxiety and irritability, fear, with-drawal, and constant information seeking about the current situation. Breastfeeding problems understood as a consequence of chronic stress were also observed and assisted by the midwives. All respondents pointed out the language barrier and their involvement, showing empathy and attentiveness to the patients’ situation. No hospital introduced additional support for midwives. A high level of emotional burden on midwives was observed.

The midwives were eager to help Ukrainian patients – they emphasized the more frequent need to make themselves availa-ble for them. However, the emotional involvement of the midwives is accompanied by the risk of traumatization and burn-out, which are associated with exposure to the difficult experiences of patients. Implementation of training in trauma-informed care and supervision could support midwives in their work and prevent the consequences of long-term stress. Sys-temic solutions concerning translators’ presence and hospital documents’ translation are also essential.

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