Advertisement

Childbirth as a Lens of Medicalization on a Guatemalan Plantation

  • Sheila Cosminsky
Chapter
Part of the Global Maternal and Child Health book series (GMCH)

Abstract

This chapter provides a longitudinal perspective of the continuity and changes that have occurred in local childbirth practices and biomedical practices on a Guatemalan plantation (finca) and a highland village in Guatemala over a period of 40 years. These include midwives’ incorporation of biomedical practices through addition or substitution, as well as their resistance to or rejection of such practices. During this period, changes have also occurred in the biomedical system. In this chapter, the author analyzes the problems produced by these changes through a series of illustrative examples. These include beliefs and practices of traditional Maya midwives and mothers that have changed, been modified, or persisted over the 40-year period of research on a finca in Guatemala and in the highland aldeas (hamlets or settlements) of Chuchexic and El Novillero of Santa Lucia Utatlán. We will look at how these changes have been either addressed or ignored in the government midwifery training programs, which are in turn influenced by international organizations, such as WHO, PAHO, and USAID and their health policies. We also examine the response of the midwives and mothers to these changes. In the process of medicalization of traditional births in Guatemala, midwives may have changed some of their former indigenous practices; ironically, these same traditional practices are now recommended by biomedicine and acknowledged as beneficial.

Keywords

Indigenous women Maternal health Placenta Pregnancy Central America Prenatal care Guatemala Maya Ladina World Health Organization Finca Plantation Comadrona K’iche’ Maya Ethnography Birth ritual Traditional midwife Biomedicalization Breastfeeding Social support 

References

  1. Berry, N. (2010). Unsafe motherhood: Mayan maternal mortality and subjectivity in post-war Guatemala. New York: Berghahn Press.Google Scholar
  2. Caughey, A. B. (2011). Is there an upper time limit for the management of the second stage of labor. Obstetric Anesthesia Digest, 13(1), 27–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Caughey, A. B., Cahill, A. G., Guise, J.-M., & Rouse, D. J. (2014). ACOG/SMFM Concensus: Safe prevention of the primary cesarean delivery. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 21(3), 179–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chary, A., Dasgupta, S., Messmer, S., & Rohloff, P. (2011). But one gets tired: Breastfeeding, subjugation, and empowerment in rural Guatemala. In M. Walks & N. McPherson (Eds.), An anthropology of mothering. Ontario, Canada: Demeter.Google Scholar
  5. Cosminsky, S. (1994). Childbirth and change: A Guatemalan case study. In C. MacCormack (Ed.), Ethnography of fertility and birth (2nd ed., pp. 195–213). Prospect Heights: Waveland Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cosminsky, S. (2012). Birth and Blame: Guatemalan midwives and reproductive risk. In L. Fordyce & A. Maraesa (Eds.), Risk, reproduction, and narratives of experience (pp. 81–101). Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Cosminsky, S. (2016). Midwives and mothers: Medicalization of childbirth on a Guatemalan plantation. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  8. Gelis, J. (1991). History of childbirth. Boston: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Goldman, N., & Glei, D. (2003). Evaluation of midwifery care: Results from a survey in rural Guatemala. Social Science and Medicine, 56, 685–700.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Grajeda, R., Escamilla, R., & Dewey, K. (1997). Delayed clamping of the umbilical cord improves hematologic status of Guatemala infants at two months of age. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 65(2), 425–431.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Hinojosa, S. (2004). Authorizing tradition: Vectors of contention in highland Maya midwifery. Social Science and Medicine, 59, 637–651.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Hinojosa, S. Z. (2015). In this body: Kaqchikel Maya and the grounding of spirit. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.Google Scholar
  13. Malloy, M. (2013). Optimal cord clamping. Midwifery Today, 108, 9–12.Google Scholar
  14. Mata, L. (1995). The Santa Maria Cauque study: Health and survival of Mayan Indians under deprivation, Guatemala. In N. Scrimshaw (Ed.), Community-based longitudinal nutrition and health studies (pp. 28–78). Boston: International Foundation for Developing Countries.Google Scholar
  15. Maupin, J. (2008). Remaking the Guatemalan midwife: Health care reform and midwifery training programs in highland Guatemala. Social Science and Medicine, 28(8), 1456–1463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. McAdams, R. (2014). Time to implement delayed cord clamping. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 123(3), 549–552.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Murphy-Lawless, J. (1998). Reading birth and death: A history of obstetric thinking. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Neergaard, L. (2014). No rush to C-sections, new guidelines urged. Philadelphia Inquirer. February 20, p. A6.Google Scholar
  19. Nichter, M. (1981). Idioms of distress: Alternatives in the expression of psychosocial distress. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 5, 379–408.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Oliveira, J. (2015). Escuela de POWHER par alas comadronas (proporcionando, cobertura en salud, la educacion y los recursos de las mujeres). Saving Mothers. Unpublished draft.Google Scholar
  21. Rogoff, B. (2011). Developing destinies: A Mayan midwife and town. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Thilagavathy, G. (2012). Maternal birthing position and outcome of labor. The Journal of Family Welfare, 58(1), 68–73.Google Scholar
  23. UNICEF. (2015). State of the world’s children 2015 country statistic tables. Retrieved from www.unicef.org/infobycountry/guatemala_statistics.html
  24. Van Rheeman, P. (2011). Delayed clamping and improved infant outcomes. British Medical Journal, 343(1), d7127.Google Scholar
  25. Verderese, M., & Turnbull, L. (1975). The traditional birth attendant in maternal and child health and family planning health. WHO Offset Publication No.18. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  26. World Health Organization [WHO]. (1998). Care of the umbilical cord: A review of the evidence (WHO/RHT/MSM/98.4). Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  27. World Health Organization [WHO]. (2004). Making pregnancy safer: The critical role of the skilled birth attendant, a joint statement of the WHO, ICM, and FIGO. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  28. World Health Organization [WHO]. (2016). Pregnant women must be able to access the right care at the right time. Media Centre. Retrieved November 8, 2016, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2016/antenatal-care-guidelines/en/

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal JusticeRutgers UniversityCamdenUSA

Personalised recommendations