Thursday, July 28, 2011

Traditional Childbirth Beliefs Among Latinas/Hispanic Women

I remember my grandmother and mother talking on the importance for a new mother to eat and drink pure dark chocolate so the breast milk could be in more abundance.  Traditional childbirth beliefs are more like a taboo in most parts of Latin America such as Central America and Mexico, very private, and sometimes very embarrassing for the new mothers to discuss with the other women (grandmother, mother, aunt, etc.) their personal postpartum needs.  We also need to keep in mind the literacy level and the regions of the country, where conservatism could be at the highest.  In Central America for example, pregnant women are highly respected by other women and children.  However, in some cases the men can be very demanding on the women to comply in meeting their sexual needs.  Not only during pregnancy but also right after birth.  In Latin America women are expected to rest for 40 days, this includes no sexual activity.

Here is a quick link to a website with some good information about traditional childbirth beliefs.

"Latina's traditionally have a forty day period of recuperation called "La Cuarentena".  During this period family members also prepare "purgantes" (home remedies) for the mother that are said to help her body to eliminate impurities from the birth.  Postpartum depression will not occur if these purgantes are taken.  Women are cared for by other women, but are expected to care for their newborn child on their own.  New mother's are discouraged from taking showers for several days, and also discouraged from getting out of bed for the first few hours after birth.  Light foods are provided, including "caldo de pollo" (chicken bouillon), herbal teas, and tortillas, beans are avoided.  Formula promotion in latin america has lead some women to believe breastfeeding is less nutritious, although most women do breastfeed."  

Also check out this link regarding cultural sensitivity taken seriously by hospitals.,0,2849109.story

Helen Dao, MHA

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