Childbirth traditions and cultural perceptions of safety in Nepal: critical spaces to ensure the survival of mothers and newborns in remote mountain villages

Sabitra Kaphle, Heather Hancock, Lareen A Newman
Midwifery 2013, 29 (10): 1173-81

OBJECTIVE: to uncover local beliefs regarding pregnancy and birth in remote mountainous villages of Nepal in order to understand the factors which impact on women's experiences of pregnancy and childbirth and the related interplay of tradition, spiritual beliefs, risk and safety which impact on those experiences.

DESIGN: this study used a qualitative methodological approach with in-depth interviews framework within social constructionist and feminist critical theories.

SETTING: the setting comprised two remote Nepalese mountain villages where women have high rates of illiteracy, poverty, disadvantage, maternal and newborn mortality, and low life expectancy. Interviews were conducted between February and June, 2010.

PARTICIPANTS: twenty five pregnant/postnatal women, five husbands, five mothers-in-law, one father-in-law, five service providers and five community stakeholders from the local communities were involved.

FINDINGS: Nepalese women, their families and most of their community strongly value their childbirth traditions and associated spiritual beliefs and they profoundly shape women's views of safety and risk during pregnancy and childbirth, influencing how birth and new motherhood fit into daily life. These intense culturally-based views of childbirth safety and risk conflict starkly with the medical view of childbirth safety and risk.

KEY CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: if maternity services are to improve maternal and neonatal survival rates in Nepal, maternity care providers must genuinely partner with local women inclusive of their cultural beliefs, and provide locally based primary maternity care. Women will then be more likely to attend maternity care services, and benefit from feeling culturally safe and culturally respected within their spiritual traditions of birth supported by the reduction of risk provided by informed and reverent medicalised care.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"