Greenlandic families expecting a baby, often feel safest when care supports cultural elements such as being near to family, home environment and local traditions. Culturally sensitive maternity care, lessens the risk of non-compliance in expecting families and the desire for alternative care solutions can be reduced. This is shown in a new doctoral thesis at the Nordic School of Public Health NHV.

In the Nordic countries, as well as many other parts of the world, the maternity care is focused on the physical health of the expecting mother, often neglecting cultural factors affecting the family that can also influence both the pregnancy and childbirth. Midwife and researcher Ruth Montgomery-Andersen has studied how factors such as family/kin, social networks and society affect expecting mothers in Greenland.

There is a ’cultural place’ for childbirth in Greenland, where the expecting family’s ability to strengthen the bonds within the family, the relatives as well as the social network contributes to the health of the family. Despite this, Greenlandic maternity care service is designed in a way that encourages many women to leave their homes and relatives for up to four weeks in connection to the delivery.

In a doctoral thesis at the Nordic School of Public Health NHV, Ruth Montgomery-Andersen calls attention to the importance of a holistic perspective on family, pregnancy and childbirth and a holistic understanding of maternity care, that includes physical, social, spiritual and cultural factors.

– Greenlandic maternal health has not been developed in collaboration with the families and the community. As a result of this families sometimes attempt to create their own solutions to the official health policy, explains Ruth Montgomery-Andersen.

About Ruth Montgomery-Andersen
Ruth Montgomery-Andersen is from the USA, but has lived in Greenland since 1995. She is a certified professional midwife, a pre-school educator, a dance instructor and choreographer. Between 1997 and 2007 she worked within the Greenlandic Health care system, as a midwife. Her doctoral dissertation called: ”Faces of Childbirth – The Culture of Birth and the Health of the Greenlandic Perinatal Family” was defended at the Nordic School of Public Health NHV on April 18, 2013.

About the Nordic School of Public Health NHV
The Nordic School of Public Health NHV is a Nordic Council of Ministers (NMR) institution for higher education and research within in the area of public health. NHV offers advanced as well as research courses for professionally active people in the Nordic region. Each year, about 300 people are being educated here, whereof approximately 50 are PhD students and 150 are studying a Master’s degree in public health. The Nordic School of Public Health NHV is situated in Gothenburg, Sweden.

For further information, please contact
Ruth Montgomery-Andersen, Research Director, University of Greenland
Telephone: +299 559 340, email:

Louise Teurneau, Acting Public Relations Officer, Nordic School of Public Health NHV
Telephone: 0046 (0) 31-69 39 84, email: