Medicalization of birth, death, and eating has happened in many places. The medicalization of birth is the main topic of this blog post. The way that birth has been medicalized is happening at different points of time for places such as the Netherlands, among the Inuit, and Vietnam. This is clear when you compare those places to the United States. There are two main types of births to consider there is home birth and birth in a hospital. The transition towards birth in a hospital is part of the medicalization of the birthing process. In the United States it is widely known that the majority of births take place in a hospital. In fact less than 1.5 percent of births in 2012 were home births in the United States (MacDorman, and Mathews, and Declercq, 2014.)
In the Netherlands home births are still a popular option for women. About 60.7 percent of women elect to have a home birth. While 30.7 percent choose to give birth at a hospital, the remaining 8.5 percent there was no data for place of birth (Jonge A., et al. 2009.) This could lead one to believe that women are making more of the decisions when it comes to where they would like to give birth. It could also say that the women of the Netherlands would rather be at home surrounded by their family members that at a hospital with people they barely know watching over them. It should also be noted that the Netherlands are set up meet the demand for home births, transportation services are adequate, and the distances to a hospital in case of an emergency is short (Jonge A., et al. 2009.) This could reflect that the cultural idea is to let women have options as to where they would like to give birth.
The story for the women in Vietnam and the women that are apart of the Inuit are not the same as the Netherland. In both cases emergency services are not in abundant supply. About 70 percent of women have home births in Vietnam (Ahlmark, Precel 2011.) For the Hmong people the importance of the home birth is important because of their traditions. Their tradition includes that they bury the woman’s placenta under the bed, they believe that it will bring the infant good health (Ahlmark, Precel 2011.) This would also prove what an important role a midwife would play in this culture. The midwife that is talked about in the film, Ying, is said to be in high demand because not only is she a midwife, she also serves as a translator between the Hmong and the Vietnamese doctors (Ahlmark, Precel 2011.) While the Inuit have different traditions the importance of home birth is the same to them. The Inuit have many birth rituals that are to be followed after birth. One of the most important is the naming ceremony, in which the elders of the group chose a name of a recently deceased family member and assign a protective spirit. This ritual takes place about eight days after the child is born (Daviss 1996.) The story of Elisapee, shows how the forced flying of women south to give birth can be harmful. Elisapee’s husband was known to drink, and she had other children she had to leave with him while she was giving birth (Daviss 1996.) This shows how important women are in the Inuit culture to caring for children and the household. Women in the Inuit group do not want to leave for the days it would take to give birth to leave their significant others in charge of the household.
When looking at all these different examples it is clear that the medicalization of these places is drastically different. Not only is it different amongst the three but when compared to the United States as well. There is an obvious presence of hospitals in all these places, however there are not as many hospitals in Vietnam near Chi Ca as there are in the Netherlands. The medicalization process is not always accepted, and traditions and rituals are considered often considered more important to the people. This move towards a medicalized culture may not work for everyone as it has here in the United States.
This is a photo of a regular mom, named Ruth Iorio. She used Twitter and Instagram to keep her followers up to date while she was giving birth. Ruth is part of the small percentage that had a completely natural home birth with the help of a doula. However, after she had successfully given birth, she was moved to a hospital along with her son. She was moved to the hospital because she had lost a significant amount of blood and had a fever (Miles 2014.) Ruth also experienced a problem that was mention in the film The Mountains Midwives of Vietnam, where her placenta would not come out (Ahlmark, Precel, 2011.) This shows that the home birth was a decision that was made by the parents. There were other options, but this was the path they chose to go on. Ruth had consulted her doctor who said that there was nothing they could do at a home birth that a midwife could not. This shows that the possibility of a home birth is so strange to people in the United States that live tweeting an at home birth would be something of main interest because there was an article written solely on this woman’s experience (Miles 2014.)
Ahlmark, N., Precel, N., [UNFPAsia]. (2011, April 27). The Mountain Midwives of Vietnam. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F1dmcJTd9U
Daviss, B. A., (1997). Heeding Warnings from the Canary, the Whale, and the Inuit: A Framework for Analyzing Competing Types of Knowledge about Birth. In Childbirth and Authoritative Knowledge: Cross-Cultural Perspective, edited by Robbie Davis-Floyd and Carolyn Sargent, pp. 441-473. Berkeley: University of California Press.
de Jonge, A., van der Goes, B., Ravelli, A., Amelink-Verburg, M., Mol, B., Nijhuis, J., . . . Buitendijk, S. (2009). Perinatal mortality and morbidity in a nationwide cohort of 529 688 low-risk planned home and hospital births: Perinatal mortality and morbidity in planned home and hospital births. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 116(9), 1177-1184.
MacDorman, M. F., Mathews, T. J., Declercq, E. (2014, March). Trends in Out-of-Hospital Births in the United States, 1990–2012. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db144.htm
Miles, K. (2014, January 8). New Mom’s Uncensored Photos Reveal The Beautiful, Messy Reality Of Home Birth. In Huffington Post: Parenting. Retrieved July 19, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/08/photos-home-birth-social-media_n_4549531.html