Week 3 Blog Post

In the United States , birth and death are considered strictly medical events. We are afraid of death so we try our best to avoid it. Midwives back in the 1900’s was considered natural part of life and not a medical event. Biomedicine eventually  became the dominate practice excluding all other practices such as midwifery and homeopathy. Midwives became and underground practice for their lack of license, doctors were the only people allowed to deliver babies. Another issue was the discrimination and racism by the Flexner Report, women and black people were viewed as wrong and the medical schools that allowed them were closed. Only one allowed black people in 1966. Merilynne Rush used a more interpretive theoretical approach in determining what death means to people and how it influences their families.

Unlike the US, please like the Netherlands used biomedicine alongside the practices US excluded with the Flexner report of 1910.  Netherlands  supports home- birth midwives and considers home-birth the first choice for low-risk women, and there, about 1/3 of women give birth at home. The women in de Jonge’s Netherlands study preferred to plan a home birth rather than a hospital birth. It also showed the equal risk of the baby being admitted to the NICU. Policies were put in place in the UK that gives women a choice of home or hospital births. In turn, that empowers more women to be in charge of their bodies. I believe the researchers adopted a more epidemiological approach to gathering the data.

The Inuit have assistance giving birth by a more experienced woman and because they believe the baby’s spirit mistaken over by another person that died, the older woman can examine their behavior to find out who. They shake the baby’s hand and welcome it to the community. More babies are being born in hospitals now, but not traditionally. The effects of biomedicine in the US seemed to have occurred in Canada as well. The baby is close to the mother, and the Inuit celebrate the new life. The Inuit believe in that birth is a spiritual social and community act according to Bette-Anne Davis. I believe the theoretical model she is using is the Critical Medical Anthropological Theory. She constructed these many systems of logic to understand how everyone is perceiving birth and what the risks are. For instance, Davis is using her systems of logic to understand the risks, benefits and normalcy in the Inuit and doctor relationships.

In Vietnam, there was only 2 main medical centers that were hours away by walking. Midwifery is prevalent The emphasis on family tradition is very strong. The family was very adamant about keeping the placenta and burying it at home, and not going to the hospital. Another reason for not complying to the midwife that comparable to the US medical system would be pervade discrimination and tension between the Hmong and Vietnamese. There still is skepticism among some minorities about the motivations of the medical system in America and unethical studies such a the Tuskegee experiment is a prime example of the mistrust patients have with doctors. Also, the midwife walked several hours to get better treatment for the mother. Access to good affordable care here in the US is also a factor. The filmmakers are using a Critical Medical Anthropological Theory by doing fieldwork in the Hmong community and analyzing their situation with midwives and how they interact with the medical system.



This image I believe supports the US attitude about birth. Teen pregnancy has become very common and the dominant believe if that teens aren’t ready financially, mentally and emotionally to care for a child. Its a way to increase in the numerous birth control methods administered by the pharmaceutical companies and hospitals. The image displays a strong suggestion to do something other than get pregnant (which is a primary function of the female body). It completely ignores the possibility that many teen moms are stable enough, have the appropriate support, and chose to have a child. It also ignores the cultural and familial traditions or preferences that may also be a factor because biomedicine’s focus is on the medical event itself rather than the patients needs or preferences and being that extra support. The image reinforces some belief that when women “change the world” we have a full face of makeup, having a seductive look on our faces. Although it seems to have attempted to debunk the typical housewife stereotype, it misses the mark by perpetuating another. The wording is also very distasteful: “you’re supposed to be”. Who makes the rules? The statement reminded me of the menstruation documentary when a lady believed the birth control pill and response to the natural process is like a form of control, a way to lessen women value.

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