In America, it is more common for women to give birth in hospital settings with medical professionals. In the Netherlands, more than half of births are at home. Amongst the Inuit, most births are at home. Then in Vietnam, most births are at the home, and few are in health clinics. All four cultures are very different, and the lens through which they were described in the article and documentaries were telling as to how people view the cultures centered around birth.
As of 2014, around 17,000 Americans planned a home birth (Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health). That may seem like a high number, but a majority of Americans view home births as absurd and unsafe. Most women in America go to medical professionals for their births, following the typical modern medicine routine of frequent prenatal doctor’s visits. While seeking a medical professional is the norm for most American women, many do not have the proper insurance or funds to pay for it. According to the Center for Disease Control, 40.2% of new mothers were unmarried at the time of birth.
Amongst the Inuit people, at home births are usually the only option available. There is a midwife present and she is most likely not a medical professional. The older daughters (if there are any) of the mother expecting the baby are expected to help out with the birth and help run the home. The Inuit children are usually breastfed much longer than other children are. They are breastfed until about 3 or 4 years old, whereas 79% of American babies were breastfed at birth, 49% at 6 months, and 27% at 12 months. Many Inuit families have many children because homes who do not have children are “considered to be unfortunate and cold” (Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada).
In the article about at home versus hospital births by Jonge et all, it was apparent that the authors were making the claim that home and hospital births were equally beneficial to the mothers and babies. More than half of women in the Netherlands plan to give birth at home and “it must be noted that maternity services in the Netherlands are set up to meet the demand for home births, transport is good, and distances short if emergency transfer to the hospital is needed” (Jonge). The only difference that occurred between the women who chose to give birth in hospitals and at home and their babies was who they were. The article describes the women as “systematically” different from one another.
In Vietnam, most people wish to have births at home in order to comply with tradition. Traditionally, the woman gives birth with her female in-laws assisting, then when her placenta is delivered, the men bury a hole under the bed and bury it there as symbolic for the new baby’s good health. However, the number one cause of maternal death in Vietnam is a condition called Uterine Inertia, where the uterus begins hemorrhaging and will not deliver the placenta. This cannot be fixed at an at-home birth with female in-laws that do not have any kind of medical training. It seems like a no-brainer to me that the women would want to go to the maternal health centers, but they must get permission from their husbands and his father, and be willing to make the long trek through the mountains and rough terrain. Overall, the video shows that the clash between culture and modern medicine is difficult for many mothers in Vietnam, but people like the young midwife Ying are working to have all mothers come to the maternal health centers.
Overall, each culture’s cultures are shown through their birthing customs. American’s birthing customs show how much we believe in modern medicine and put down things that are not related to biomedicine, Netherlands shows that they have options and make the option personal for every mother, the Inuit are very family-based, and Vietnam is navigating between their culture and the spread of modern medicine.