Part I: The U.S. has a different perspective on birth compared to the Netherlands, Vietnam, and the Inuit population. The U.S. is much more medically focused. Less focused on the experience from a spiritual level for the individuals of the family. According to an International Journal of Obstretics and Gynaecology and Researcher and Professor Simone Buitendijk, in the Netherlands, approximately 60.7% of women planned to give birth at home, while 30.8% intended to give birth in the hospital. In the U.S., giving birth in a hospital setting is the norm because of the overwhelming percentage of mothers that give birth in the hospital, but it is shown through research that babies of the women who planned to have a home birth were equally as likely to have to go to the NICU as compared to the babies of women who gave birth in the hospital. Approximately 7 per 1,000 babies died or were admitted into the NICU in both groups, which concludes that women can safely choose where they want to give birth. For the health of the baby, both atmospheres are equipped for birth.
Jonge A., et al. theorized that women should feel comfortable with the idea of making the decision about where to give birth. His theorization came from the statistical differences of the women and their choice of birth place and environment between the U.S. and the Netherlands. It seems in the Netherlands; women are motivated to choose an environment that aligns with their own comfort level.
Like the Netherlands, a great deal of the Inuit’s is likely to give birth in places other than hospitals. This stems from their different types of logic that are referenced in the reading. Such as scientific, clinical, personal, cultural, intuitive, political, legal, and economical (p. 443) are all factors when making a decision (Davis, 1997). Each type resonates differently to create a perception for the Inuit of how to manage birth. With the use of their different types of logic, the Inuit people seem to look at birth in ways that don’t just analyze scientific principles, but also recognize their cultural and spiritual beliefs too. In the U.S., most of the decision stems from what is best for the health of the mother and the baby, and often times spiritual and cultural aspects are not even mentioned, therefore it is most common for women in the U.S. to give birth in a hospital setting. This can show that compared to the Inuit people, the U.S. may still respect cultural and spiritual beliefs, but don’t seem to take it into consideration when making important decisions like where to give birth, but rely much more on science. For the Inuit, it does seem that overall hospital births are becoming more prevalent, in the U.S. still considers it as their “go to” place for birth, while the Inuit takes into account other factors rather than just a conversation between a mother and her doctor relying on science.
In the film “the Mountain Midwives of Vietnam,” it is evident that in Vietnam, giving birth in a hospital is not common and rarely something that mothers elect for, opposite to the U.S. Generally, if a mother in Vietnam is going to the hospital to give birth, it is for sanitary and safety precautions for both mother and child. It is not necessarily the choice by the mother. Reasons a woman may go to the hospital versus giving birth at home are if conditions are not sanitary at home. Things like cutting the umbilical cord or cleaning the baby off after birth may seem trivial, but if not conducted in a properly cleansed environment, it can have detrimental impacts on the baby. Due to the preferred choice by women in Vietnam to give birth at home rather than a hospital, like the Inuit, it shows a spiritual and cultural connection, something that is lacked in the United States when it comes to where to give birth.
While there are a lot of differences in the way other countries and mothers handle the decision of where to give birth, there is also a clear pattern of death being more medicalized in the U.S. as well. In the U.S. death is not something we plan for many times, although we all know that someday it will happen. However, according to Merilynne Rush, the process of death and preparation of the body through funeral homes, and the celebrations being catered, planned and prepared right after the death make the ceremony and overall celebration of life less meaningful towards the relationship between those attending the ceremony and the person who has died, which has stemmed from the medicalized way of handling death in the United States (Rush, 2012).
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. doi:10.1111/j.1471-0528.2009.02175.x
Part II: A majority of women in the United States lean toward more clothing and covering up when pregnant. For example, on the beach or at the pool most women have their pregnant stomachs tastefully covered up, rarely in a bikini. The ones who are wearing the bikini with a large pregnant belly often catch a lot of attention and maybe some whispers. Which is troubling considering pregnancy shouldn’t be shamed.
This photo is a great example of a challenge toward the dominant American ideals of pregnant women. Beyoncé poses for a very provocative photoshoot while pregnant. Beyoncé’s brave and powerful photo was excepted because she is of such high socioeconomic status. Also her name, her brand, her skin tone all carry a large weight in the US and all adds power to what she does. People follow her “powerful” example.
However, if you had seen this same photo on your Facebook feed of a random girl from high school or maybe even a stranger – you may not have reacted the same way. It would make most people uncomfortable.
This bold decision of hers was a successful challenge toward dominant views and sends a positive powerful anti-shame message about pregnancy.