Timorese women’s experiences and expectations of skilled birth attendance in Timor-Leste: A qualitative inquiry

Rosemary King, Linda Jones

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


The study explores women’s experiences and expectations of maternity care in Timor-Leste.

Qualitative, descriptive research using focused ethnography. Thirty women and seventeen health professionals from three districts in Timor-Leste were interviewed and/or participated in focus groups.

Women’s expectations of care include the provision of information, advice and clinical assessment from midwives who have the capacity to provide emergency obstetric care if required. Midwives’ access to technology (for example: the fetal doppler), increased the women’s confidence in services. The women also identified poor experiences, including angry, busy midwives, poor communication, and lack of privacy in antenatal and birthing services. The lack of privacy inhibits women’s communication with health professionals. An absence of covers and multiple staff present during labour and birth embarrass the women and their families. Many Timorese women live in poverty and have poor literacy skills. These women want knowledgeable, approachable, and clinically competent midwives who can support them through their pregnancies and childbirth. Poor communication, angry, busy midwives and lack of privacy cause discomfort and embarrassment and may discourage the women and their family’s uptake of skilled birth attendant (SBA) services.

Midwives have a critical primary role in the provision of advice, information and care of Timorese women during the childbirth continuum. Continuing education of midwives with an emphasis on communication and culturally congruent care will improve women’s satisfaction and childbirth outcomes. Impoverished women are particularly vulnerable when birthing in health care services. Attention to the women’s privacy and her additional needs can include a focus on the birthing space and the number of staff who have access to it.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationSexual and reproductive health
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Grant Number

  • nil


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