Blog Post 3 – Birth Within Various Cultures – Titilope Oladipo

Part One:

The medicalization of birth can vary in multiple ways across cultures, and it is really interesting to actually take a good look at what these differences are. The common story I am used to hearing is a woman’s water breaking, being rushed to the nearest hospital, and birthing the baby at this location. My siblings and I were born in a hospital, most of my friends were born in a hospital….a lot of people around me share this experience. Here in the United States, there is a huge focus on biomedicine in the process of birthing a baby. There are other methods women may select to have their baby, but having the baby in a hospital setting with the assistance of physicians, other health workers, and technology have become the norm. We have almost become in a way dependent. In the Netherlands, hospital births are a common option too, but there are also other popular options. In the “New figures from the Netherlands on the safety of home births” article, it is mentioned that 60.7% of the women surveyed planned to give birth at home, making it the most popular option of the study. However, the Netherlands manages to keep mortality rates low, and there are no noted differences between those who have their baby at home versus a hospital or other location. With available transportation, easy access to health facilities, and trained professionals for whatever birthing option one proceeds with, it is easy to see why the Dutch have been successful with births.


The use of hospitals isn’t the preferred choice for every culture, where tradition plays a major part instead. Looking into the perspective of the Inuit people in Canada, tradition is so important among them. Older experienced women would help the pregnant woman give birth, and the child was always in close proximity to the mother. These women experience comfort and confidence in this option of birthing. When Western medicine was spread to these areas, many women were forced into hospital births, something they didn’t feel was comforting or as rewarding. Although hospital births have become more popular among the Inuit, many women are still supporting the traditions of spiritualized and home birthing. Among the Hmong in Vietnam, similar traditions are practiced with most women choosing to have their babies at home. The family is an important part of life, and the birth of a baby should be celebrated within the home. However, the mortality rate is high, and individuals are encouraged by midwives and others to proceed with having the baby in the hospital. Some people just have a lack of knowledge about the helpful services that the hospital can provide to women in pregnancy, and some families don’t have a means of transportation to a health center; the closest hospital can even be found hours away. But many families have decided that culture and tradition, for them, trumps what any Western idea can offer. Continuing to place value on these traditions while incorporating these new ideas may be what is needed to help combat the mortality rates that some cultures are experiencing.


Part Two:

US birth

From things on social media to advertisements to TV in America, I’ve started to believe that the idea of pregnancy is glamorized at many times. We constantly praise the women who remain put together, sexy, and fabulous. It has made me wonder if this has placed any influence on the number of young teens getting pregnant when they aren’t ready. Realistically, this is a tough period to endure and many times you won’t see that in an advertisement. Although the process of having a baby is a beautiful and unexplainable one as I hear, it will not be all rainbows at every moment.

5 thoughts on “Blog Post 3 – Birth Within Various Cultures – Titilope Oladipo

  1. I love the picture and the reasoning behind why you chose it! There is so much glamorization related to not only pregnancy, but post pregnancy bodies. Especially among the famous and elite, whenever a pregnant individual makes a public appearance, they look near flawless and glowing, and always are talking about how great being pregnant is. Yes, I’m sure pregnancy is a beautiful feeling, but lets not forget about the morning sickness, mood swings, and overall stress of carrying another human being inside of yourself! As you said, it most likely will not be rainbows all the time. And post-baby bodies are also a thing being glamorized among famous people; all over magazines and social media, we see pictures of models and actresses who had babies months ago, and look like their body hasn’t been affected at all!

  2. I completely agree with what you said about pregnant women being praised if they remain put together and beautiful. The media definitely puts a lot of pressure on women to not gain much weight during their pregnancy and this, in my opinion, is a completely unrealistic expectation considering health care providers suggest that women should gain anywhere from 25-35 pounds during their pregnancy. When women see their favorite celebrities gain little to no weight during pregnancies, they feel the need to do the same which could lead to complications during labor and delivery. Losing the weight gained during pregnancy after giving birth is an even stronger pressure put on women by the media when everyday we open up magazines and see celebrities who lost the baby weight in just a few short months. This makes women set unrealistic goals and have crazy expectations for themselves which can lead to frustration and unhealthy lifestyle choices by new mothers. The truth is that for the average woman, they will gain a lot of weight during pregnancy and it will take awhile after delivery to lose the weight in a healthy manner. If it wasn’t for the unrealistic images created by the media, new mothers would be able to focus their attention on caring for their babies and appreciating the beautiful gift of having a newborn than about losing weight and looking like their favorite celebrity.

  3. I agree that the blend of tradition and Western medicine may help to lower mortality rates of women and children while still allowing them to live out their culture. I keep thinking back to the Hmong documentary where one woman mentioned that giving birth in a hospital could leave the placenta in question. To fulfill the goal of lowering mortality rates by introducing health clinics and elements of biomedicine it is crucial that a sustainable system is created where women of the community are serving other women of the community.

    With regards to the glamorization of pregnancy, I would say that there is particular interest in new mothers in the United States. The photo you chose is interesting because it places the women in the position of power, the man appreciating and loving what she will soon bring into this world. This can speak to the cultural rite of passage of transitioning from woman to mother in the United States. The woman in this photo would suggest that becoming a mother in the United States makes a full woman – with beauty, a baby, and a partner.

  4. Hi Titilope!

    After reading your post and picture that went along with it, I couldn’t agree more with you! It was something I similarly mentioned in my own part 2 of my blog post, using celebrities as my example how women are supposed to live up to them and the ways they keep their bodies in awesome shape before, during and after pregnancy – something that is not always as simple as it seems. Often times in the picture such as the one you posted, the women are airbrushed, edited, with makeup and hair freshly done for the photo shoot, masking the truth behind pregnancy and birth, that of which is many times difficult, stressful, and overwhelming. The media indeed does put heavy pressure on women to look a certain way in a certain amount of time, especially after the birth of a baby. We fail to realize celebrities in these magazine and all over the media have highly successful trainers and dieticians that get them back into shape. The body is meant to take time to get back to an ideal and realistic size, so why rush a natural process? I’m glad others like yourself have noticed similar trends with pregnancy and media that I saw as well!

  5. Titilope, I do agree that the media tends to popularize and sell pregnancy as a beautiful experience. That perhaps may influence young women into looking past the hardships and responsibilities that ultimately come along with pregnancy, as they only see these beautiful and almost trendy images of pregnant women, but I think above all it is very important to show pregnant women in this way, and certainly more rewarding than causing negative outcomes. It is important for women to feel beautiful when pregnant and to be and feel empowered by this wonderful process. I also think it important to remember how lucky we are to live in a place and time in history that provides us with so many medical hospitals and revolutionary care, while unfortunately not all cultures have this access yet. Still, it is very important to continue to respect other cultures and allow other communities with other customs than ours to be able to express themselves and maintain their own identities. We must work towards providing good medical care that will help save lives, while still respecting other cultures.

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