Aims and objectives. Participant narratives from a feminist and queer phe- nomenological study aim to broaden current understandings of trauma. Examin- ing structural marginalisation within perinatal care relationships provides insights into the impact of dominant models of care on queer birthing women. More specifically, validation of queer experience as a key finding from the study offers trauma-informed strategies that reconstruct formerly disempowering perinatal relationships.
Background. Heteronormativity governs birthing spaces and presents considerable challenges for queer birthing women who may also have an increased risk of trauma due to structurally marginalising processes that create and maintain socially constructed differences.
Design. Analysis of the qualitative data was guided by feminist and queer phe- nomenology. This was well suited to understanding queer women’s storied narra- tives of trauma, including disempowering processes of structural marginalisation. Methods. Semistructured and conversational interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of thirteen queer-identified women who had experiences of birthing in rural Nova Scotia, Canada.
Results. Validation was identified as meaningful for queer women in the context of perinatal care in rural Nova Scotia. Offering new perspectives on traditional models of assessment provide strategies to create a context of care that recon- structs the birthing space insofar as women at risk do not have to come out as queer in opposition to the expectation of heterosexuality.
Conclusions. Normative practices were found to further the effects of structural marginalisation suggesting that perinatal care providers, including nurses, can challenge dominant models of care and reconstruct the relationality between queer women and formerly disempowering expectations of heteronormativity that govern birthing spaces.
Relevance to clinical practice. New trauma-informed assessment strategies recon- struct the relationality within historically disempowering perinatal relationships through potentiating difference which avoids retraumatising women with re- experiencing the process of coming out as queer in opposition to the expectation of heterosexuality.