Professionals' experiences of supporting two‐mother families in antenatal and child health care in Sweden

Helene Appelgren Engström*, Catrin Borneskog, Elisabet Häggström‐Nordin, Anna‐Lena Almqvist

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In Sweden, antenatal and child health care are offered free of charge to all expectant and new parents. Professionals in antenatal and child health care play an important role in supporting parents. Previous research shows that same‐sex mothers face heteronormative assumptions and insufficient support during their transition to parenthood.

Objective: To explore professionals' experiences of supporting two‐mother families in antenatal and child health care.

Method: A qualitative method with focus group discussions was used. An interview guide was followed, and the discussions were held online. The data was analysed according to inductive content analysis.

Settings and participants: The participants were midwives (n = 8) and nurses (n = 5) in antenatal and child health care from different parts of Sweden. Participants were recruited through the coordinating midwives and child health care nurses in the different regions.

Findings: One main category was identified: Striving to be open‐minded in supporting same‐sex mothers. Health care professionals described meeting well‐prepared mothers, with an equal commitment between each other, and mothers on guard against heteronormative views. Professionals provided support through empowerment by creating a safe environment and aiming at providing equal support to all parents or tailored support to same‐sex mothers. Mothers described handling challenges, as a balancing act to acknowledge both mothers. Struggling with documents and communication and a lack of information were other challenges to be handled. Professionals reflected on their own professional competence and expressed that knowledge acquired through education, experience and personal interest all contributed to their competence.

Conclusions: Forms and documentation need to be updated to be gender neutral to be including to a variety of family constelleations. Health care professionals need time to reflect on norms and challenges to better support both mothers in a two‐mother family.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalScandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
Early online date3 Aug 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Aug 2022


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