W4: Different Cultures, Different Procedures

I found this section to be particularly fascinating, because its focus (birth) is an idea that I previously thought was more or less the same for all cultures. I was delightfully proven wrong. Of course, all cultures have different ideas of many things, but I never realized that not every woman wishes for the  typical “American” or medicalized birth- and every woman should be entitled to an experience that makes her feel comfortable, happy and satisfied with the care of her physicians (if she wishes for any to be present at all).

If you look at this topic of medicalized birth without any knowledge of cultural differences, it may be obvious that all women should have the technologically advanced care we have in the US, including hospitals, formally trained doctors, etc. However because of different beliefs about what personality traits are considered admirable (such as Hmong women making little sound during birth to not show weakness) or what makes a healthy baby (the women from South India expecting, and even wanting birth to be painful), the typical Americanized delivery process is undeniably not a one-size-fits-all experience.

It is for that reason that I find forcing Inuit women to give birth in southern hospitals slightly barbaric. This is one of countless examples of Western imperials believing they know what is best for every culture, and thus enforcing a completely new and unfamiliar procedure to people who were doing just fine beforehand. Because Inuit women would traditionally, and sometimes still do, breastfeed up until the birth of a new child, it cannot possibly be practical to fly these women miles away for several weeks in order to give birth. They would be leaving behind immeasurable responsibilities to their family and community without choice, which in turn puts added unnecessary stress on the mother.

Another resource by the Inuit Women of Canada, similar to the article that was required reading, highlights the importance of midwifery in their culture because of the special bond the child shares with the person that brought them into this world. As the child grows up, the person who helped deliver them not only helps in raising the child but also plays a very unique role in which the child will learn many valuable lessons specific to their culture via this individual.

Pregnancy is already hard enough without a woman being told how she can and cannot experience labor, and so on. The added stress mothers endure simply because professionals don’t understand their culture is appalling- especially when this added stress could negatively affect the baby.

Pauktuutit. “Midwifery.” Inuit Women of Canada. July 29, 2016. http://pauktuutit.ca/health/maternal-health/midwifery/

As a completely separate and informal side note, did anyone read the section in “The Inuit Way” about solving conflict with song duels? Did anyone else feel it’s almost like a traditional version of American “rap battles”? There’s a crowd of people watching a duel that involves witty songs about the opposing party, and the crowd watches and laughs as women sing and men play drum beats. This is completely irrelevant, I just thought it was super cool.

One thought on “W4: Different Cultures, Different Procedures

  1. Hi Amanda!
    I loved the take you had on this subject! I also found this to be a great section and all in all believe that if the mother is satisfied with the birth process and the baby is healthy, then who is anyone else to say what is “right” or “wrong” about the practice. I loved when you wrote that it is “not a one-size-fits-all experience”. I really think the only reason we find these things so odd is that we have grown up in a highly medicalized birthing practice society. It really goes to show how much “typical” practices shape our views on the world. I also find it barbaric that we cannot just respect their wishes. We constantly have to show how we are more “right”. I think this also stems from our ideas of individualism and the idea that someone else knows how to do something better than us. In America, when we give birth, the mother sees the baby for a very short time after he/she comes out because the doctors must check its weight, heartbeat, breathing patterns, ect. meanwhile others, such as the Hmong, give birth on their own without even telling their families. Cultural differences do not equal abnormalities. P.S: after reading your comment about the song duels I went back and read it more in depth. It does seem like our version of a “rap battle”! Just another way cultures can be connected!
    Thanks!
    -Rachel

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