Childbirth in the West and East Comparison Essay by danbonsai

Childbirth in the West and East
An examination of the differences between two ethnically distinct cultures whereby two women who have experienced the ritual of childbirth are interviewed one Asian and one Western.
# 16394 | 3,026 words | 17 sources | MLA | 2002 | AU
Published on Jan 25, 2003 in Anthropology (Asian) , Anthropology (Modern) , Anthropology (North American)

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Childbirth is a culturally-mediated event, and this essay reflects this view. The paper includes a discussion of how ritual is significant to every society and how it varies. It shows a number of inherent differences in the ritual of childbirth between the two cultures, as well as some striking comparisons. Both women and their experiences serve as case studies in each culture. The paper discusses how these women relate to issues such as pain relief, support structures during and after birth - particularly the role of the husband/partner, surgical interventions such as Cesarean section, the importance of postnatal care and differences in emotional expression during birth.

From the Paper:

"The experience of childbirth in any culture is a time of great anticipation and encompasses many different emotions, but is never simply a biological act. Childbirth in every culture around the world has been socially marked and shaped and there are quite marked differences in the ritual of childbirth from country to country. "The concept of "natural fertility" and "natural childbirth" are cultural constructs. Our lives are lived in socially independent groups guided by cultural rules." (MacCormack, 1982, p.2) Amongst other things, the ritual of childbirth may differ in where the birth occurred in the hospital or at home, the support structures provided or pain relief, and be influenced by cultural, traditional or religious beliefs. Scheper-Hughes (1987, in Davis-Floyd, 1997) and others put forward the argument that without culture, we would not have emotions, or at the very least be unable to interpret them. As such, culture is a very important factor in the analysis of the ritual of childbirth and emotion. Brigitte Jordan (1979), who many believe to be the mother of the study of childbirth, described birth as a "culturally grounded, bio-socially mediated, and interactionally achieved event." "

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