This website is a collection of research from a variety of ethnographies primarily devoted to documenting "traditional" practices and customs in communities, especially as they faced changes following the Westernization of childbirth and other medical practices. The primary purpose of this website is to compare how different communities approach the care of pregnant people, fetuses, and infants. This website is not intended to show statistically accurate representations of the pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum experiences of the citizens of the countries documented here, but rather to provide insight into the customs that impact the health of the communities studied.
To understand the implications of the observations found here, one must take into account several aspects of the research and current global trends. Firstly, the research is typically conducted by a North American or Western European researcher, written with the intention of informing an audience whose conceptions of pregnancy and birth are similar to his or her own. Secondly, the introduction of Western medicinal practices is the result of some form of colonization, whether political or cultural, in most of the communities studied. Thirdly, most of the communities studied here are rural, relatively impoverished, and at high risk of complications and negative birth outcomes. Lastly, the introduction of Western medicine has had undeniable benefits in some communities in terms of improving the outcomes of pregnant people and their infants, but it has also had some drastically negative effects on the wellbeing of some families and communities when it does not take into consideration the important, positive aspects of more "traditional" approaches to pregnancy and childbirth, especially when it is presumed to be superior to other methods and is implemented by culturally unaware practitioners.
About the creator
Marsaili Lowry is a first-year student at Vanderbilt University studying Spanish Language and Elementary Education. She created this website as a final project for her anthropology course The Politics of Reproductive Health. The class focuses on the ethnographic method of obtaining qualitative and personal reports on the experiences of individuals in a community. To that end, this website reflects this method by using primarily ethnographic sources (see Resources) to support her analyses of the effects of the medicalization of pregnancy and birth as well as the commonalities between geographically disparate communities. She hopes to use her new understandings of non-Western approaches to reproduction to inform her own decisions and discourse surrounding reproduction and the Western medicalization of this and other processes.