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Understanding Cultural Myths and Superstition Surrounding Childbirth
Abstract Number: F-69
Abstract Type: Other
Childbirth like many major milestones in life, can be influenced by cultural values, traditions, myths and superstitions. It has been suggested that immigrant women, in general, report less satisfaction in hospitals during childbirth (1). This observation has been speculated to result from the challenge hospitals face in acknowledging and accommodating traditional practices during childbirth.
Our institution had previously reported a case where the parturient had deliberately manipulated the surgical start time for a scheduled cesarean delivery, based on her desire for the baby to born within a certain time frame (2). The woman who was of Chinese origin, ate a full breakfast very much aware of the American Society of Anesthesiologist’s fasting guidelines, resulting in a postponement of her cesarean section from 12.30 PM to 3 PM. This was done in order to ensure the baby was delivered at an ideal time, in concordance with what the Chinese believe to be ‘lucky’ numbers.
A 39 year old G2P1 from Saudi Arabia presented in labor at 37 weeks gestation. She had an uncomplicated pregnancy and good antenatal care. On arrival to the labor suite she was reluctant to speak to the anesthesia team but with progression of her labor, requested to have a consultation and possible placement of a labor epidural. Her main anxiety was the belief that the epidural would not provide effective pain relief because she had recently consumed camel meat. On further questioning, she revealed that it was common belief amongst the Arabic culture that consumption of camel meat, a delicacy in this region, would result in ineffective pain relief with labor epidurals. She eventually received an epidural for analgesia and had a pain free vaginal delivery of a baby girl.
To ensure the provision of quality healthcare to women of all cultures, the obstetrical anesthesia division at our institution are now collaborating with obstetricians to ensure that women who may have specific preconceived ideas of labor and childbirth due to their cultural background have opportunities to speak with the anesthesia team, social workers and labor suite resource personnel to discuss expectations and childbirth plan. As a result of this multidisciplinary approach to improve cultural awareness amongst the providers, we are able to accommodate as much as we can within the limits of patient safety. We continue to acknowledge that cultural competence is a vital component of quality healthcare delivery. As we broaden our scope of the myriad of cultural traditions, beliefs, superstitions and myths, we hope to provide safer and more satisfying healthcare to our patients.
1.Arendt K, Zhou J, Segal S, Camann W (2008) Childbirth time selection based on religious belief. Anesth Analg. 107(6):2096-7
2.Small R, Yelland J, Lumley J, Brown S, Liamputtong P(2002) Immigrant women's views about care during labor and birth: an Australian study of Vietnamese, Turkish, and Filipino women. Birth 29(4):266-77