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When I Had My Baby Here!

I put a necklace on my baby’s neck and when a midwife from the hospital came to visit me she saw it and said: ‘Don't do this because it may choke your baby.’ How could it choke the baby? We Hmong people have been doing this for thousands and thousands of years and no baby has died from being choked by a silver necklace. The quote given above shows different cultural beliefs and practices among healthcare providers and women from a non-Western cultural background. In this case, there is little doubt that the carer had good intentions in protecting the infant. However, putting a necklace around the infant’s neck is a means of protecting the infant from ill-health and harmful agents in the Hmong culture. The carer would have been more understanding and could have handled the matter better if she had been knowledgeable about different cultural beliefs and practices among the Hmong women. Confusions and conflicts, therefore, could have been avoided. In this chapter the experiences of several Hmong and Vietnamese women who had their babies in Australian maternity hospitals are examined. The chapter is divided into three main areas: pregnancy, birth and confinement. In each of these three areas important issues, which are the main concerns and worries among Hmong and Vietnamese women, will be presented.

Contents include

  • Cultural beliefs and practices in relation to childbearing
  • What can women do in Australia?
  • Experiences of some Hmong and Vietnamese women in Australian hospitals
  • Perceptions of their own health now, since being unable to observe their traditional practices and having to accept hospital regulations.
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Author / Editor Biographies

Cultural - medical anthropologist
Dr Pranee Liamputtong is a medical anthropologist whose interests include the health of women, children, immigrants, refugees, older people, and transgender individuals. In terms of health issues, Pranee is very interested in issues relating to motherhood, reproductive health, sexuality, sexual health, and mental health. She has carried out a number of research projects with refugee and immigrant women in Australia and women in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand. Recently, Pranee has focused her research on the sexuality and sexual health issues of Asian women and refugee/immigrant gro...

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