It is clear that birth has been medicalized differently in the Netherlands, in Vietnam and amidst the Inuit in comparison to the United States. To start, the United States is much more medicalized, and the priority seems to be safety more often than not. Meaning that births are more likely to be completed & advocated to be in the hospital. Moreover, the United States offers a variety of birthing options which allows the mother to experience the miracle in whichever way suits her. These options include the following birth types: vaginal, home birth, natural birth, water birth & c-section. Pain medication is also an option. However, the United States seems to have a stigma of relying on doctors. Regardless on if the stigma is completely true, most americans do see a doctor as early as nine months before the pregnancy for medical examination and continue to see them until birth.
Especially for the Inuit, this is not the case. The Inuit are very fond of home births, and traditionally, hospitalized births go against their culture. When it actually comes to giving birth to the child, there was no doctor, but instead community women would help each other give birth. Typically, birth experienced women would help younger pregnant women (Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, 2006). Traditionally, the birth of the infant had taken place in a hut. Like most cultures, there were particular things that the Inuit would do with the newborn. For example, after birth, the child is in constant contact with their mother for up to the first five years (Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, 2006). Moreover, whenever an inuit baby is born the community would shake its hand in order to welcome the child.
Today, most inuit babies are born in medicalized facilities. The pregnant women are actually flown south to Canadian hospitals for the procedure. Regardless, there is a push to to return to midwife practices/ home birthing (Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, 2006). There is strong support to keep the traditions alive. It makes sense that this birthing methodology allows for a closer bond between the mother who is giving birth and the newborn child that is born. Moreover, there is belief that this helps bond the women in the community as well as bond the entire family of the pregnant woman (Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, 2006).
In Vietnam, there is also cultural traditions to prefer childbirth at home. Actually 70% of the people there choose home birth (Ahlmark, Nick and Nicole Precel 2011). The Hmong culture specifically is very adamant about following their culture as it goes hand & hand with doing what is best for the mother and the child. There are traditions that emphasize this like the placenta tradition where the Hmong people bury the placenta under the bed in which the child was born in hopes to protect the child from evil spirits as well as to make sure the baby lives a healthy life (Ahlmark, Nick and Nicole Precel 2011). Midwives are doing their absolute best to get the vietnamese to deliver more often in the hospital. A big factor limiting this is that a lot of the women require specific permission from their husbands to actually leave for the procedure (Ahlmark, Nick and Nicole Precel 2011). Today, there is a combination of both traditional as well as western medicine methodologies to reduce deaths at birth. Home Births are also really supported in the Netherlands as well. It is usually considered to be the first choice for birth assuming that the women are at a low risk. A large portion of the Netherlands still give birth at home.
It is apparent that the types of births and deaths that occur in women, mothers and families reflect different cultures & beliefs. As I mentioned before, in some cultures, only safety is priority or families rely on doctors, but in other cultures, births and death bring the community, the family, the men and the women together. I do not want to argue about it too much in this class because it is a little out of scope, but I do believe that the different rules on birth in a way belittle women. In my opinion, they should be able to choose whichever birth type they want regardless on risk. That being said, yes I do believe that someone should be knowledgeable about giving birth if they assist in a home birth and that having someone experienced should always be an option.
A few additional theoretical perspectives can be identified in de Jonge A., et al., the filmmakers Nick Ahlmark and Nicole Precel, Betty-Anne Daviss, and Merilynne Rush. It has been shown, in the article New Figures from the Netherlands on the Safety of Home Births home birth and hospital birth are equivalently safe (de Jonge A 2009). This was due to a few factors such as hospital access, how trained the midwives were as well as actual transportation to the hospitals. I can imagine this allows women to feel a little more relaxed with their options and with their choices of freedom. Lastly, women who want a traditional home birth seem to think differently from women who do not. Which this makes sense since they sometimes follow a different culture.
Ahlmark, Nick and Nicole Precel: “The Mountain Midwives of Vietnam.” 2011. Accessed July 29, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F1dmcJTd9U.
Daviss, Betty-Anne. No Date. Heeding Warnings from the Canary, the Whale, and the Inuit.
De Jonge A, van der Goes B, Ravelli A, Amelink-Verburg M, Mol B, Nijhuis J, Gravenhorst J, Buitendijk S.: “New figures from the Netherlands on the safety of home births,” 2009.
Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada. 2006. The Inuit Way: A Guide to Inuit Culture.
This image communicates the idea and the message that women in the United States typically have a choice on how they can give birth. Not only does this include the choice of a woman picking the type of birth that they want to undergo, but it also includes picking different subtypes of a single type of birth type. For example, this image shows a variety of different natural births. This image also communicates that birth is definitely an incredible and vital medical event, and that it should not leave any fear. Women should be confident about this medical event as well as be confident that they can do it however they like and still maintain their health. In other words, this image portrays that under medical care, natural birth can still be a choice.