It is interesting how different cultures view childbirth. As stated, some it is apart of everyday life, while for others it is highly medicalized procedure. Here in America, we are highly medicalized; birthing, for the most part, is done strictly at the hospital, and involves many doctors, nurses, drugs and procedural instruments. I personally find it extremely interesting to learn about the different ways various cultures view childbirth, and the many ways it can be preformed. I have really enjoyed these lectures as I was unaware of the different traditions there were surrounding childbirth, or even the fact that it was considered something more than just a medical procedure.
The Inuit were very traditional with their birthing practices. They believed that a women should give birth in a hut, separate from their home, and then be isolated for 1-2 months from their home (Gabriel 4.2). After the 1950s, when the Inuit people were put into villages, they lost their birthing rights. Babies began to be delivered by local hospitals. Eventually, in the 1980’s 98% of birthing Inuit women are evacuated to give birth in the south (Gabriel 4.2). At this point it has almost completely become medicalized as the Inuit traditions cannot be carried out in a hospital setting. I actually find this to be very sad, as this culture has lost a part of their tradition, something they have only ever known. At first I thought maybe sending these women south is really what is best for them, how safe can it be to deliver a baby in the northern weather conditions? But some great points were brought up of the consequences of sending women to travel so close to birth, to me, they outweighed the positive. The way I look at it, the Inuit people were forced to medicalize childbirth, which has taken away from their culture.
The Hmong people have their own traditional birthing practices as well. They chose to give birth themselves without any help from others, and that they must stay quiet during this birth. I find this so interesting because of how different it is from American’s culture and how loud women can be when giving birth. I actually have a friend that is Hmong that told me about this once. They also believe in burying the placenta after birth, although I find this different, as I’m sure many Americans do, it does make sense to me (Fadiman).
For the most part Americans don’t have much of a tradition when it comes to childbirth, except that it should be done at the hospital, this has actually been changing in recent years. In an ABC by Robert Virtue article published, a few American women have described why they feel giving birth is better for them and the baby. One of the main arguments being that if you are at your own home you are going to be more relaxed, as compared to a hospital. They also claim there is less risk of catching another disease from the hospital when you are at home. Most importantly, at home you are surrounded by people you care about and feel less stressed. I personally think that because of the way I grew up and the medical system I am use to, I would feel much better going to a hospital where I am surrounded by doctors. With that being said, I do also believe any person and culture should be allowed the choice to decide for themselves how they want to give birth.