Pregnancy and Birth During the Pandemic: A Qualitative Study

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: health, pandemic, Perinatal Care

Principal Investigator: Rice, Kathleen (1)
Licence Number: 17068
Organization: McGill University
Licensed Year(s): 2022
Issued: Jun 27, 2022
Project Team: Yolanda Smith-Hanson, Alize Gunay, Sarah Williams, Sydney Timmermans

Objective(s): To understand pregnant and birthing people's concerns about pregnancy and childbirth during the pandemic, and to connect this to particular decisions and behaviours.

Project Description: This licence has been issued for the scientific research application No.5280.

The overarching purpose of the study was originally to understand pregnant and birthing people's concerns about pregnancy and childbirth during the pandemic, and to connect this to particular decisions and behaviours (e.g. the decision to give birth at home); to capture how pandemic-related policy changes (e.g. remote appointments with care providers; no visitors postpartum) impact on women’s experiences of pregnancy and birth; to explore the connections pregnant women draw between their experiences of pregnancy and birth and their health and that of their infants; to identifying barriers to good care, with the aim of influencing better policies and practices going forward.

The objective of this stage of the research are two-fold. Firstly, in interviewing healthcare providers the Principal Investigator (PI) aim of identify the following: what do biomedical healthcare providers prioritize as good perinatal care? What do they view as medically necessary? How is patient dignity, choice, and autonomy prioritized vis-à-vis workplace safety and efficiency, and how do pandemic stresses impact on all of this? On a pragmatic level, this approach will identify inadequacies in the logics of healthcare policy and practice during the pandemic. This work is crucial for informing better policy, service, and care delivery, and for planning for future pandemics. This will also contribute to theory on the medicalization of pregnancy and birth, and on the normative assumptions that shape obstetric care

Secondly, by interviewing decision-makers, the PI aim to identify the regional/hospital/birth centre policies surrounding prenatal and postpartum care, to understand how these policies were implemented in practice, to identify how different stakeholders were involved, and to understand the decision-making processes involved in policy creation and/or implementation. The PI is also interested in understanding the priorities, ideas, and assumptions underlying these processes, and how the implementation of these policies affects the provision of prenatal and postpartum care. By eliciting the experiences and perspectives of people who have been involved in creating and/or implementing pandemic policies surrounding prenatal and postpartum care, the PI anticipate this study will inform policy processes in order to better support the needs of pregnant people, care providers, hospital staff, and other professionals.

In-depth semi-structured interviews with healthcare providers and hospital administrators who play a role in perinatal healthcare in Yellowknife. This may include nurses, nurse practitioners, obstetricians, family physicians, midwives, and senior administrative personnel. All interviews will take place one-on-one at a date and time that is convenient to the interviewee. With interviewees' consent, these interviews will be audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. They usually take between 30 and 50 minutes. Informed consent will be obtained prior to interview, and all identifying data will be removed prior to analysis. Interview files will be transcribed by a professional transcription service that is bound by a confidentiality agreement. Anonymized data will be analyzed by the research team.

The PI sits on the Institutional Review Board for the Department of Family Medicine at McGill University as their expert in qualitative/ethnographic methodologies, and thus highly versed in ethical research practice. All of this expertise will come to bear on how this project is carried out.

The PI have already been in informal communication with the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority and Stanton Territorial Hospital; they received the project favourably and directed the PI to the Aurora Research Network to obtain the necessary approvals. Provided these are obtained, internal contacts in the hospital will circulate a recruitment email which outlines the purpose of the study, the commitment that it entails, and the confidentiality guarantees that accompany it. Interested individuals will be invited to contact the PI via email or phone to schedule an interview.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 1, 2022 to August 31, 2022