W4:Medicalizing a natural process

When considering how medicalized our childbirth process is in America it is hard to imagine that it once was not like that here and very different in other cultures, it is even less medicalized than it ever was here. From most of my knowledge of history, childbirth has been mostly medically based with practices of using a midwife, being in a bed; usually, a doctor was involved in at least some process of the pregnancy. We also medicalize it through pre-natal care and now a days even more through things like IVF. The parents usually name the baby within minutes of the birth.

It becomes slightly less medicalized in the Inuit culture. This can be most closely related to the olden days of the American birth. Mostly, a midwife type figure, usually an older member of society, was used to help during the birth (Gabriel, Lecture 4.2). Most of their concerns come from environmental factors. The name is either given by the family or a shaman. Ceremonies can occur to present the baby to the spirits and give it a blessing. This can also be used to see how well the baby will survive and even how well it will be at skills such as hunting (Gabriel, Lecture 4.2).

The least medically based is the Hmong culture. Although we only have one representation of this type of birth, it is very obscure to us because it is such a part of normal life for them. Delivering the baby on her own, making no noise. It’s almost like it didn’t happen. The shaman then performs a ceremony to ensure the spirit is well in the child and no “dabs” harm it (Fadiman, 11).

I think America’s individualistic culture comes through in the childbirth process. This shows through in the parents naming the child and being the only ones allowed in the room during the birth. The Inuit and Hmong both use Shamans as they are the higher being of their society having a more culture based meaning. Nothing is “regular life” when it comes to America’s process. I tried to do some research on recent changes back to natural childbirth. The only thing we find “unnatural” about our birthing process is the medication, not the hospital or doctors or any of that. The study I found, “examined the influence of epidural analgesia in patients electing natural childbirth. Pain relief alone was not found to improve material satisfaction”(Kannan, Jamison, Datta). This made me wonder how satisfied women in other cultures are with their actual natural births.

Kannan, Suresh M.D.; Jamison, Robert N. Ph.D.; Datta, Sanjay M.D. “Maternal Satisfaction and Pain Control in Women Electing Natural Childbirth” Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine 26. no. 5 (September/October 2001). Accessed July 29, 2016.

One thought on “W4:Medicalizing a natural process

  1. Your first sentence is very thought provoking when considering not only childbirth, but other procedures in the United States vs the rest of the world. Everything that is done in the U.S. seems so normal to us that we always question why the rest of the world doesn’t do everything the same way. There is also the notion that Americans are the best at everything, which is far from the truth. The United States has gained much of its power and economic status from technological developments. So when childbirth became medicalized everyone believed that this way was the best and safest for mother and child. One downfall to the popularity of medicalized childbirth is the limited number of people that get to experience it. You mention that only the mother and father are allowed in the delivery room during birth, which leaves close relatives in a waiting room and friends are not even there for the most part. In other cultures, childbirth can include a more expanded group of people. Now that medicalized childbirth has become so mainstream in the United States I don’t know if it will ever return to its “natural” roots. I will be curious to see if other cultures follow in the American footsteps as well.

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