Author(s): Rice PL
Abstract Share this page
Abstract OBJECTIVE: To examine traditional and changed beliefs and practices related to the puerperium of Hmong women in Melbourne, Australia. DESIGN: An ethnographic study of reproductive health among Hmong women in Australia. SETTING: Melbourne Metropolitan Area, Victoria, Australia. PARTICIPANTS: 27 Hmong women, three shamans, two medicine women and one magic healer who are now living in Melbourne. FINDINGS: In the Hmong tradition, the first 30 days after birth is seen as the most dangerous period for a new mother. There are several beliefs and practices which women must observe in order to regain strength and avoid poor health in the future. Lying near the fire in the first three days is one such belief. The woman's body during the puerperium is considered polluted. Hence, there are several rules to restrict the woman and the substance of her body. It appears the Hmong continue to observe their post-birth confinement practices regardless of their new environment. Most women mentioned that this is to avoid ill health and misfortune in the future. There are only a few customs which they have to modify due to changes in their living situations in a new country. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Hmong cultural beliefs and practices concerning the puerperium in particular, and childbearing in general, have specific implications for midwifery care. Since midwives will continue to encounter many traditional beliefs and practices of the Hmong when providing birthing care to Hmong women, it is essential that their cultural beliefs and practices be taken into account. This will not only help to avoid misunderstanding, but also result in culturally appropriate and sensitive care for immigrant women.
This article was published in Midwifery
and referenced in Reproductive System & Sexual Disorders: Current Research