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#1 of 10 Old 02-28-2009, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Is there anyone that can give me some insight into the Russian Culture and how it relates to women in childbirth? No specific questions just wanting some insight to help understand more.
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#2 of 10 Old 02-28-2009, 09:06 PM
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That is a pretty broad question. I have worked with clients who have come from that region but I can't claim to have found a common birth culture between them (just like we see really varied attitudes and birth cultures in the US and Europe and South America, Canada, etc). I think it is a relatively conservative, doctor-is-right, fathers are out of the process birth culture from what clients have told me, but again, this is painting with an incredibly broad brush.

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#3 of 10 Old 02-28-2009, 09:15 PM
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My ILs are from Russia and quite conventional and conservative in most ways. We were surprised that when we told them we were planning a home birth, they thought it was a good idea. Apparently there is also a strong alternative birth culture in Russia. Have you seen the "Birth Into Being" video?
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#4 of 10 Old 03-01-2009, 02:28 AM
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Russia is such a BIG place with so many cultures and places. I don't want to paint with too broad a brush. In my experience, russian women are fabulous birthers - they get it done. I would put them in the category of "Most likely to laugh at the drape offered before a pap smear" - that type of comfort with their bodies can be an asset in birth.

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#5 of 10 Old 03-01-2009, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
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I haven't seen the video! Thanks everyone. This does help even though like you said, it is very broad. Apricot, I love your quote about most likely to laugh at the offer of a drape offered for a pap I get that get it done impression too. Birthing in water seems very important.

The water is not hot in the hospital, initially you can fill the huge tub, but it isn't warm enough to last very long and be comfortable. Then, the sink water will not warm the tub water because it is cold and the microwave down a long water temperature regulation has been an issue in the past for sustaining a long time in the tub at the hospital. There is a big tub though, but when you let water out of it, it is super loud and can be disturbing to a woman in labor. I am going to think about how to make this work.

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#6 of 10 Old 03-01-2009, 06:23 PM
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We have a large Russian population here in Alaska of course. Mostly they are ones who do things themselves, even pulling of teeth!
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#7 of 10 Old 03-02-2009, 11:33 PM
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It's incredibly dependent on all sorts of things, from background to location to what your mother did.

In villages, homebirth tends to be more common, often just because there's not a hospital anywhere nearby. In large cities it's a bit more common to go to the hospital, I believe, but the Russian medical system has been so messed up for so many years, there's still a certain amount of distrust there. Emulation of US social standards though is not uncommon, there's a certain percentage of the population that would look at US standards and say "they do it in the hospital, so I'm gonna do it that way".

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#8 of 10 Old 03-02-2009, 11:56 PM
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I had a Russian doula client in January. She said that when she was born, her mother was put in her bed and labored by herself and sucked it up. That's how it is. She said that in Russia now epidurals, etc are not used because they are not an option and that C/S is to save a life and no other reason. She was very determined and decided in what she wanted. She didn't care about the pain.

Fast forward to the birth. Her husband was on the plane coming, so she labored at home up to transition before calling me. We barely made it to the hospital. She looked like a warrior woman birthing that baby. It was definitely so far my favorite birth.

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#9 of 10 Old 03-03-2009, 02:31 PM
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I have friends who are Ukrainian and their birth practices are from is often very traumatic to birth there. One of their common proverbs is "A woman who has one baby is brave, a woman who has two is a fool." Their whole attitude is that birth is something you're lucky to survive. They often have to take their own medicine to the hospital, their own sheets, food, etc. The husband/boyfriend usually drops the mom off about a week or so before the due date. She is expected to be quiet and to keep out of the way completely. I've talked to moms who were slapped, had water thrown on them, etc. for being too loud or for taking too long. This is all about self control. One mom was stuck on the floor screaming for help and the nurses were standing in the hall where she could see them, they would not come and help her. She finally got to the bed and pulled herself up. A midwife I know saw the cervix pulled out to "check" it after births...birth there is butal at best...this is why an underground of homebirth is becoming very strong. Home birth is 'leagal' but only if you can get the authorities to believe you.

They usually have a large room to labor in - with several women laboring together and nurses coming in to keep them quiet and check on them from time to time. When the time comes the mother is transfered to another group delivery room where she sees a different doctor than the one she went to for her pre-natals.

As far as supporting a birth - I would work a lot on pre-natal classes. The dads rarely attend a birth and the natural functions of a body are considered to be disgusting - including birth. Many moms do not want the father there for fear that the sexual relationship will be damaged. Preparation and talking about fears would be just vital I would say.

Usually the post-partum time is also spent in the hospital - about a month total is spent in the hospital. The mother is often not allowed any visitors and the baby is kept wrapped with many blankets in a mummy-like encourage self control in the infant. The fathers come and see wife and baby through a glass window. Often severe pp depression is a problem because of the extreme isolation.

Obviously, this is not universal for all Russian births, but it is a common picture and likely the one your client has in her mind.

Many people are working to encourage these countries to change their birth practices, but it takes much time and effort.

Please feel free to PM me if you have more questions.


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#10 of 10 Old 03-04-2009, 11:44 PM
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I married into a Russian family so I'd be happy to ask questions of my new Russian community if you have anything specific. Feel free to PM me...childbirth differs greatly across Russia and the old Soviet Union so it just depends on where the client grew up and what social expectations were put on her.
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