Background. Ireland has seen an expansion of new migrant communities over the past decade and the country has struggled to cope with this new multi-culturalism, especially within the health services. The maternity services in particular have seen an increase in deliveries from ethnic minority women. Little research has been done exploring this issue with maternity service providers. Methods. Using a grounded theory approach, this study sought to explore the experiences, understanding and perspectives of maternity service providers when working with ethnic minority women in the Dublin maternity services during 2002 and 2003. Results. Four themes emerged from the study: Communication difficulties, knowledge and use of services, cultural differences and 'Them and Us'. These encompassed a variety of issues including inadequacy of interpretation services, childcare issues, coping with labour, identification as different and racism. Ethnic minority women are expected to adapt to the system rather than the maternity services being responsive or adapting to the new multi-cultural population. Discussion. These issues were relevant a decade ago internationally and are still pertinent today for not only Irish services but also for other European countries. There is an opportunity to improve the services for all women by learning from the experience of Dublin maternity service providers.
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