Traditional practices of women from India: pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn care.
ABSTRACT This article describes maternal and child care practices among women from India. As in all cultures, certain beliefs exist surrounding what facilitates a good pregnancy and its outcome, as well as negative sanctions. These practices continue to influence many immigrant women to whom western practices are either unknown or unacceptable. An understanding of the traditional belief system of such women can case their adaptation into the Canadian and U.S. health care systems.
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ABSTRACT: The difficult birth process of humans, often described as the "obstetric dilemma," is commonly assumed to reflect antagonistic selective pressures favoring neonatal encephalization and maternal bipedal locomotion. However, cephalo-pelvic disproportion is not exclusive to humans, and is present in some primate species of smaller body size. The fossil record indicates mosaic evolution of the obstetric dilemma, involving a number of different evolutionary processes, and it appears to have shifted in magnitude between Australopithecus, Pleistocene Homo, and recent human populations. Most attention to date has focused on its generic nature, rather than on its variability between populations. We re-evaluate the nature of the human obstetric dilemma using updated hominin and primate literature, and then consider the contribution of phenotypic plasticity to variability in its magnitude. Both maternal pelvic dimensions and fetal growth patterns are sensitive to ecological factors such as diet and the thermal environment. Neonatal head girth has low plasticity, whereas neonatal mass and maternal stature have higher plasticity. Secular trends in body size may therefore exacerbate or decrease the obstetric dilemma. The emergence of agriculture may have exacerbated the dilemma, by decreasing maternal stature and increasing neonatal growth and adiposity due to dietary shifts. Paleodemographic comparisons between foragers and agriculturalists suggest that foragers have considerably lower rates of perinatal mortality. In contemporary populations, maternal stature remains strongly associated with perinatal mortality in many populations. Long-term improvements in nutrition across future generations may relieve the dilemma, but in the meantime, variability in its magnitude is likely to persist. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.American Journal of Physical Anthropology 11/2012; · 2.48 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Global policy regarding optimal umbilical cord care to prevent neonatal illness is an active discussion among researchers and policy makers. In preparation for a large cluster-randomized control trial to measure the impact of 4% chlorhexidine as an umbilical wash versus dry cord care on neonatal mortality in Southern Province, Zambia, we performed a qualitative study to determine local perceptions of cord health and illness and the cultural belief system that shapes umbilical cord care knowledge, attitudes, and practices. This study consisted of 36 focus group discussions with breastfeeding mothers, grandmothers, and traditional birth attendants, and 42 in-depth interviews with key community informants. Semi-structured field guides were used to lead discussions and interviews at urban and rural sites. A wide variation in knowledge, beliefs, and practices surrounding cord care was discovered. For home deliveries, cords were cut with non-sterile razor blades or local grass. Cord applications included drying agents (e.g., charcoal, baby powder, dust), lubricating agents (e.g., Vaseline, cooking oil, used motor oil) and agents intended for medicinal/protective purposes (e.g., breast milk, cow dung, chicken feces). Concerns regarding the length of time until cord detachment were universally expressed. Blood clots in the umbilical cord, bulongo-longo, were perceived to foreshadow neonatal illness. Management of bulongo-longo or infected umbilical cords included multiple traditional remedies and treatment at government health centers. Umbilical cord care practices and beliefs were diverse. Dry cord care, as recommended by the World Health Organization at the time of the study, is not widely practiced in Southern Province, Zambia. A cultural health systems model that depicts all stakeholders is proposed as an approach for policy makers and program implementers to work synergistically with existing cultural beliefs and practices in order to maximize effectiveness of evidence-based interventions.PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(11):e79191. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The health benefits of breastfeeding are well documented in public health and medical literature worldwide. Despite this, global rates of breastfeeding steadily decline during the first couple of months postpartum. Although immigrant women have higher initiation rates and a longer duration of breastfeeding overall, breastfeeding practices are compromised because of a myriad of socioeconomic and cultural factors, including the acculturation process. The objective of this study was to show how acculturation and cultural identity influenced breastfeeding practices among Indian immigrants in Melbourne, Australia. Twelve case studies were employed to gather narratives of women's lived experiences. Ethnographic field research methods were used to collect data, including participant observation, semi-structured interviews, case studies, and life histories. This provided in-depth information from women on various aspects of the immigrant experience of motherhood, including infant care and feeding. Participants were opportunistically recruited from Indian obstetricians and gynaecologists. Women identifying as ethnic Indian and in their third trimester of pregnancy were recruited. Interviews were conducted in women's homes in metropolitan Melbourne over a 12 month period between 2004 and 2005. Data were coded and analysed thematically. All women identified as ethnic Indian and initiated breastfeeding in accordance with their cultural identity. Social support and cultural connectivity impacted positively on duration of breastfeeding. However, acculturation (adopting Australian cultural values and gender norms, including returning to paid employment) negatively influenced breastfeeding duration. In addition, the high reliance of recent immigrants on the advice of healthcare professionals who gave inconsistent advice negatively affected exclusive breastfeeding. For ethnic Indian immigrant women breastfeeding practice is closely linked to acculturation and identity construction, both personal and communal. The lack of social and cultural networks for recent immigrants prevents their involvement in the cultural systems that traditionally support breastfeeding. With this in mind, healthcare professionals should deliver services in a culturally appropriate and sensitive manner where women feel supported as well as empowered.International Breastfeeding Journal 12/2013; 8(1):17.