It is known that here in the United States of America, birthing processes and viewpoints have become very centralized around our bio-medicinal culture. The actual birth is something that has come to focus on when it is the right time to go to the hospital. This completely proves that our culture has come to rely on biomedicine and we may not recognize or support any other, more traditional ways of giving birth. The ideas of “natural birth,” birth with the help of a midwife, and multiple other more holistic ways of birthing, have become more and more popular within the United States, but the majority of our culture’s pregnant females still tend to focus on birthing practices in the hospital.
Both the Inuit and the Hmong people have traditional ways of going about childbearing, that strongly differ from the Western, medicalized ways of birth. Some of the traditional aspects of childbearing within the Inuit culture include a type of midwifery, where an older woman, more experienced in birth, helps the Inuit mother give birth (Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, 16). Another aspect is that the Inuit children are commonly birthed in their family’s hut. In the document, “The Inuit Way: A Guide to Inuit Culture,” the author points out the fact that many Inuit babies today are born in hospitals, one ramification of the Western medicine push on medicalization of childbearing, and that Inuit women are strongly supporting the return of traditional midwifery (Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, 16). With regard to the Hmong people, their traditional aspects of childbearing differ greatly from those of our Western culture. Their viewpoints are against any prenatal care, which is something that is dominant within our medicalized culture. The Hmong people have also been known to refuse procedures such as C-sections, or stitching to repair any wounds that occur during childbirth. This kind of refusal can lead to infections, which is something that seems inevitably avoidable to doctors in the Western medicine culture, through our medical practices. Forced medicalization onto the Hmong and Inuit cultures is something that has hurt their people, and something that needs to end. An article surrounding the medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth states, “when women’s voices are ignored in the construction of knowledge pertaining to pregnancy and childbirth, they become alienated from the experience” (Parry, 2008). I completely agree with this statement. Traditions within certain cultures should not be tempered with, especially if their traditions are not harming others. In fact, I think it would be beneficial if our Western medicine culture tried to embrace certain aspects of these different cultures, like embracing midwifery even more than it already is.
The idea of birth and expanding people’s viewpoints surrounding birth could play a huge role in my future career. I plan to become either a NICU nurse or a labor and delivery nurse in the future, so being able to learn more about the different cultural viewpoints surrounding birth has really been helpful. It has opened my eyes to all of the different ways to go about childbearing. I truly feel that pushing the medicalization of birth onto cultures that have their own traditional ways of going about this process is unnecessary. There are, of course, similarities to traditional ways of childbearing and biomedical processes of birthing, but I think that the similarities, as well as their differences, should be embraced. Western medicine should be more open to different practices involving childbearing, instead of forcing medicine which could be unnecessary in cultures that have perfected their traditions over time.
Parry, Diana C. “”We Wanted a Birth Experience, Not a Medical Experience”: Exploring Canadian Women’s Use of Midwifery.” Health Care for Women International 29, no. 8-9 (September 3, 2008): 784-806. Accessed July 28, 2016. doi:10.1080/07399330802269451.