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Cultural Aspects of Childbirth and Parenting Child birth is an important event for individuals, families and, therefore, the communities they belong to. It involves the interplay of several socio-cultural variables that its incidence could effectively depict the norms, beliefs and traditions of a given society…
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Download file to see previous pages There are so many dimensions to it that studying its dynamics could provide deep insights for health care professionals. This paper will examine the case of child birth and care in Kalahari, South Africa. It is expected that the discourse can further highlight the argument that the idiosyncrasies in various culture are especially prominent in pregnancy, child birth and parenting and that an understanding of such could empower health care professionals to be effective especially in decision-making stage when working with a highly diverse population. Kalahari is a region in southern Africa that covers parts of South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Bushmen have thrived in the region for at least 20,000 years. Children and parenting among them are treated much the same way in Western societies. Babies are indulged and cared for until their survival is ensured. Sigelman and Rider (2011) noted that “babies are touched 70% of daytime hours, are breast-fed whenever they want (usually 20-40 times a day), and may not be weaned until the age of 4.” (p. 124) The way mothers and families rear their young – with the attention and importance given to this enterprise - is fundamentally the same with how Western communities and families care for their children. They are loved, protected and provided for. The Bushmen, however, practices a unique birthing culture. A very important aspect of it is how the Kalahari women aspire and value the manner of giving birth to her child unaided. At least this has been true in the case of the Bushmen tribe of Ju|’hoansi. According to Selin (2009), this is quite common across this group because solitary child birth is widely seen as an opportunity to prove one’s worth as it is considered part of the rites of passage wherein women can display their ability for self-control, in addition to the ritualistic beliefs entailed in ethnic rites of passage. (p. 17) The implication of this cultural practice is that it exposes mothers and infants to several risk factors; the most serious of these is death. This practice appears so different from the Western idea about the entire birthing process. In most western societies such as in the United States, pregnancy and child birth is an opportunity for family, relatives and friends to lend support. They are equated with the procreation processes and, hence, are extremely important for many individuals beyond the family. In addition, anthropologists consider kinship relationships in the West as fundamentally connected with acts of birth and human understanding of procreation. (Stone 2009) And so pregnancy and birthing are considered an event of extreme interest. Rites, beliefs, myths, among other cultural practices that our community have made all feature the requirement of support and closer ties. It is normal for us to see assistance, especially those by women who possess authoritative knowledge on the process, as one with great survival value for birthing mothers. This is the reason why today both the health professional such as the doctor or the midwife are actual partners in the pregnancy and the birthing enterprise. Another interesting aspect about child birth in Kalahari is the environment. Desert covers much of the area and this claimed an important impact in the childbirth beliefs and behaviors of the Bushmen. Unlike in our society, for instance, the Bushmen did not have the luxury of water for birthing. Women ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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