These lectures this week have really opened my eyes to my general impression of a natural childbirth. I have always thought that those people were crazy who wanted no drugs and wanted to stay home for the birth. I even was skeptical of those who preferred a midwife to a doctor. What I did not know is the history of childbirths and how it was like that for so long before medicalization.
For the Inuit people, their culture relied on midwives or older woman to assist with the birth. They stayed in their villages and had acquired certain customs for the birth experience such as not giving birth in your own family hut, and the children being named after recently deceased people (Gabriel 4.2). This makes sense to me that they formed this ritual of how to give birth. They are very tied to their culture and are usually only surrounded by their own. Then the Canadian government decided that Inuit mothers had to be evacuated to the South to give birth in a more medical manner. The Canadians thought they were doing what was right, but that’s because they had beliefs in the biomedicine system. I initially thought this was a great thing, as I could not imagine the safety of childbirth in the North. The lecture brought up very good points such as what if the mother has children she is leaving behind when she is evacuated? Or what if there is a language barrier? (Gabriel, 4.2). I was surprised and happy to find out that after some Inuit’s reclaimed their birthing style that it was proved just as safe as those women who are evacuated (Gabriel 4.2).
The Hmong people have even more different birthing rituals than compared to Americans. I was shocked to find out that the birthing process occurs with no help from others. Growing up the way I did, I could never imagine anyone choosing to be alone while giving birth. Americans rely on usually an entire hospital along with their family to get through childbirth, while the Hmong women are alone. Also, the Hmong believe in a very sacred ritual of burying the placenta after childbirth, while in America the placenta is usually discarded. When some Hmong women have a medicalized birth, they loose this ritual unless they ask to keep the placenta. Doctors usually do not respond well to this, as it is something very unheard of in our culture.
I used to believe that the highly medicalized American birth was completely normal. I now know that this is not what it has always been like. Women in America used to give birth at home without doctors. Midwives were highly respected. Now America’s cesarean birth rate is at an all time high. The World Health Organization states, “While the optimal C-section rate recommended by the World Health Organization is between 5 and 10 percent, we are delivering 1 out of every 3 babies by Cesarean” (Torre). I believe it is the woman’s choice on all the factors pertaining to how she will give childbirth. I never realized there were so many differences between cultures regarding childbirth. I also did not realize that a lot of them are very safe.
Torre, Naomi. “Risks of High- Tech Birth.” SheKnows. May 27, 2012. Accessed July 28, 2016. http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/952881/dangerous-birth-is-childbirth-becoming-over-medicalized.