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Pregnancy and Birth


Pregnancy and birth can be a very special time in the life of a woman. The nine months of pregnancy, as well as labor and delivery, are filled with many physical and psychological changes, as well as changes in lifestyle. Each change poses a challenge that can be met successfully when the woman shares her feelings and experiences with a partner or other supportive person and with her physician, midwife, nurse, and childbirth educator. The importance of health care throughout pregnancy is emphasized, because proper health care increases the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy, a healthy baby, and satisfied parents. Many references, particularly the Human Relations Area Files, describe cultural variations in beliefs about pregnancy and birth and associated behaviors.


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Chalmers, B. (1996). "Cross-Cultural Comparisons of Birthing: Psycho-social Issues in Western and African Birth." Psychology and Health 12:11–21.

Chalmers, B. (1997). "Childbirth in Eastern Europe." Midwifery 13:2–8.

Davis-Floyd, R. (1992). Birth as an American Rite of Passage. Berkeley: University of California Press.

DePacheo, M. R., and Hutti, M. H. (1998). "Cultural Beliefs and Health Care Practices of Childbearing Puerto Rican American Women and Mexican American Women." Mother Baby Journal 3(1):14–22.

DeSevo, M. (1997). "Keeping the Faith: Jewish Traditions in Pregnancy and Childbirth." AWHONN Lifelines 1(4):46–49.

Harrison, A. (1991). "Childbirth in Kuwait: The Experiences of Three Groups of Arab Mothers." Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 6:466–475.

Hayba, P. (1996). "Childbirth in New Zealand: A Tribute from an American Educator." International Journal of Childbirth Education 12(1):18–22.

Jeng, S. J. (1997). "Chinese Traditional Childbearing Culture." Chinese Culture Monthly (212):1–26.

Jimenez, S. (1995). "The Hispanic Culture, Folklore, and Perinatal Health." Journal of Perinatal Education 4(1):9–16.

Jordan, B. (1993). Birth in Four Cultures, 4th ed. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.

La Torra, G. (1996). "Cultural Beliefs about Pregnancy and Birth." International Journal of Childbirth Education 11(2):36–38.

Lee, S. H., and Kuo, B. J. (2000). "Chinese Traditional Childbearing Attitudes and Infertile Couples in Taiwan." Journal of Nursing Scholarship 32:54.

Manio, E., and Renouf, R. (1987). "Asian Family Traditions and Their Influence in Transcultural Health Care Delivery." Children's Health Care 15:172–177.

Mattson, S. (2000). "Ethnocultural Considerations in the Childbearing Period." In Core Curriculum for Maternal Newborn Nursing, 2nd edition. ed. S. Mattson and J. Smith. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.

Nichols, F. (1996). "The Meaning of the Childbirth Experience: A Review of the Literature." Journal of Perinatal Education 5(4):71–77.

Nilsson, L. (1990). A Child is Born. New York: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence.

Peritham, U. (1993). "Korean Women's Attitudes toward Pregnancy and Prenatal Care." Health Care for Women International 14:145–153.

Tuttle, C. R. (1997). "Experiences of Perinatal Care and Childbirth in New Zealand: A Model in Transition." International Journal of Childbirth Education 12(4):30–32.

Twiggs, F. T. (1988). "Expectant Fathers: Couvade Syndrome and Stress." Dissertation Abstracts International 48:2112B.

Wagner, M. (1996). "The Future of Birthing around the World." International Journal of Childbirth Education 12(2):7.

Other Resources

ABCbirth.com. (1999). The ABCs of Pregnancy. An Online Textbook About Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Early Parenting. Available from http://www.abcbirth.com.

BabyCenter, L.L.C. (2002). Available from http://www. babycenter.com.

Human Relations Area Files: Cultural Information for Education and Research. Information on HRAF available from http://www.yale.edu/hraf/.

Nestlé. (2002). Very Best Baby. Available from www.verybestbaby.com.

Pregnancy-Info.Net. (2002). Available from www. pregnancy-info.net.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2002). MEDLINEplus Health Information. Pregnancy and Reproduction Topics. Available from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/pregnancyandreproduction.html.


Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & ParenthoodPregnancy and Birth - Pregnancy, Physical And Psychological Changes Of Pregnancy, The Woman's Partner, Developmental Tasks Of Pregnancy