how pregnancy is approached in different cultures - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
Old 07-02-2008, 04:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
ommom's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: san francisco area
Posts: 391
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
hi all, for those of you who have exposure to other countries/cultures, i'd love to hear different takes on pregnancy.

today i spent the day working w/a woman who grew up in france. i ate lunch at noon, snacked on tomatoes at 2, snacked on a blance bar at 4, joked that i was eating every few hrs.

she immediately launched into not eating TONS (e.g. using pregnancy as excuse to stuff oneself "for two") & how american women and french women friends of hers approach things really differently. it's totally natural and not a big deal in france. you just eat normally. she only gained 22 lbs. when pregnant. when she and her friends went into labor, they were just their usual physiques plus a belly. she feels like americans tend to view pregnant women as all fragile and almost like pregnancy is an illness.

(honestly i don't feel i'm eating much more than usual; just differently - lots of small meals all day, and am gonna continue trusting my body.)

but anyways some of what she said struck me as true.

do we americans at the turn of the century tend to make pregnancy a big to do (e.g. talk endlessly 'bout our physical state/s) when it's just not such a big deal?

curious people's thoughts.

DD 12/08
ommom is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 07-02-2008, 12:10 PM
 
AutumnJade's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 92
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Drs put that on us! Pregnancy is not an illness...its a state of being.
AutumnJade is offline  
Old 07-02-2008, 12:15 PM
 
WeasleyMum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Charlottesville
Posts: 2,859
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Every time I'm pregnant, I am just STARVING half the time. Now I've never made it past the first trimester, so that could change later on, but don't French women get that feral hungry feeling? Or are they just disciplined enough to ignore it?

Mara, mama to two boys born 05/2009 and 04/2011, after four miscarriages. 

Also: chicken3.gif  dog2.gif

WeasleyMum is offline  
Old 07-02-2008, 01:30 PM
 
kalirush's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Columbus, OH
Posts: 1,319
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I just spent a month and a half being too sick to do anything useful. So your French friend can suck it. It's not just my cultural expectation of being a delicate flower here.

On a less personal level, I agree that both pregnancy and birth are pathologized in this country.
kalirush is offline  
Old 07-02-2008, 02:57 PM
 
_betsy_'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 4,615
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
There are lots of books abotu PG and birth in other cultures. I found a couple at my local library last time around.

I hate being treated like I have a disease because I'm PG. I'm not sick, I don't need strict medical attention, I don't need to be monitored every second - it's JUST a PG! It's JUSt birth! Women have been doing this for millions of years!
_betsy_ is offline  
Old 07-02-2008, 03:13 PM
 
EBeth0000's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 412
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
While I agree that we pathologize pregnancy in our culture, don't buy into her arguments about staying on a French diet during pregnancy. My DH lived in France for a couple of years as an artist and says he has never seen so many people with birth defects and used to say he thought it was the fact that all the pregnant women over there seem to subsist on cigarettes, capuccinos and red wine

In fact, any time I skip breakfast and order a capuccino he says "what, are you on the French diet now? Do you want me to pick up a pack of smokes?" (we're non smokers) Your snacks sounded nutritious and not huge in quantity. . .she's crazy!

I am really lucky that, although I gained 60+ pounds during my first pregnancy, my DH never got on my case or anything, just kept feeding me healthy, nutritious food!

In fact, we have a friend who is normal weight and has "food issues" which I guess is the polite way of saying she's borderline anorexic, and she limited her weight gain to 15 pounds against Dr. orders. She was diagnosed with GD and had a persistent breech and ended up with a c-section birth at 37 weeks with a less-than-6 lb. baby

She called and said, "I just can't believe that I got GD and YOU didn't!" (meaning, I guess, that I'm such a fat cow and didn't have it. . .while she is supermodel skinny and did.)
EBeth0000 is offline  
Old 07-02-2008, 06:29 PM
 
xakana's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Missouri
Posts: 1,488
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by EBeth0000 View Post
While I agree that we pathologize pregnancy in our culture, don't buy into her arguments about staying on a French diet during pregnancy. My DH lived in France for a couple of years as an artist and says he has never seen so many people with birth defects and used to say he thought it was the fact that all the pregnant women over there seem to subsist on cigarettes, capuccinos and red wine

In fact, any time I skip breakfast and order a capuccino he says "what, are you on the French diet now? Do you want me to pick up a pack of smokes?" (we're non smokers) Your snacks sounded nutritious and not huge in quantity. . .she's crazy!
EXACTLY. European countries think it's fine to drink alcohol like water. I don't know the health consequences (statistically) myself, but in the US, if you drink like a European, you're considered an alcoholic (and it's true--if you were to try to stop, you would find it very difficult and you'd have to detox). As for births... France, England, Canada (for starters)--all have it nearly as bad as we do here, if not worse. And stay the heck away from recommendations from Italy--anorexia is a lifestyle for women there.

You want to know what's healthy? Ask Norway. They're known as the best country in the world to get pregnant, have a baby and be a new parent.

But it is interesting, looking at the various countries around the world and how they approach things, you're right. But weight is not that big a deal. In fact, it's worrying about weight that often causes women to gain too much.

You sound like you're eating great, certainly not "for two"! Human beings are supposed to eat every 2-4 hours, but our modern work schedules don't allow for that, so we shove down 3 big meals and our poor metabolisms suffer.

Talkative, AP SAHMama to my bright and spirited girls Lilly 10-15-06, Naomi 1-1-09 vbac.gif and Katarina 11-16-11 vbac.gif

blogging.jpgMusing Mommy
xakana is offline  
Old 07-02-2008, 06:55 PM
 
acory23's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 485
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I cant breathe if I eat three regular meals a day. And I get lethargic. it makes my round ligament pain and constipation worse too... DH was worried that I would do what his ex wife did and use PG as an excuse to let myself go and become a slob (she gained 125lbs and after the baby was born she sat on her bum all day and ate and did nothing... because of her sloth and gluttany she had to have an emergency c-section and had a 4lb baby.) She also drank... she said she was told it was ok to have a glass or two of wine a day... WRONG!

Then my MW reassured him that how Iam eating is much healthier. That is also how I feed my children. Luckily thier schools nutrition planner and admin staff feel the same as they let the kids have snack time in the morning. So they have breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. They are both healthy and full of energy. The human body was designed to run off of several small meals and not three big ones.
acory23 is offline  
Old 07-03-2008, 09:50 AM
 
mustangtbn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: just this side of Utopia
Posts: 236
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by xakana View Post
You want to know what's healthy? Ask Norway. They're known as the best country in the world to get pregnant, have a baby and be a new parent.
I agree! That said, while there may be cultural differences, there are also a lot of differences between individuals too. I've known people who seem to eat unhealthy food all day long and gain 20 lbs, all in their baby belly, and are back in prepregnancy clothes in a week - while I eat healthy foods in accordance with my appetite and gained 55 with my last (didn't lose the last 10 until right before I got pregnant again either). For the most part, I wouldn't worry one way or the other about weight gain, it's eating as healthy as possible and exercise that matter. Your body will take care of the rest exactly as it was designed to do. Of course, forgoing cigarettes and alcohol is important too.

But, my way of looking at it doesn't seem to be the typical American attitude. I do think that at the same time as Americans consider pregnant women to be more delicate than we actually are, there is also a lot of pressure (particularly if you are working) to push yourself as hard as you would if you weren't pregnant, which isn't good either. I don't think that pregnancy or birth are diseases, but I also think that you should follow your body. So, if you are feeling sick or exhausted (which many do while pregnant) then you should take it a little easier and get more rest. And if you are hungry, eat! :

T , mom to S and C
mustangtbn is offline  
Old 07-03-2008, 02:50 PM
 
ainh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 630
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My dad is living in rural Costa Rica and he had a baby three years ago this month. I was down there visiting when his wife was six months pregnant and it *was* interesting to see the differences. She never drank an ounce of water...only (weak) coffee. She scoffed when I would suggest that she should hydrate. Who knows what her doctor said, but she acted like it was totally normal to not drink anything but coffee. It stressed me out. In the end, she gave birth a week late and there was practically no amniotic fluid (so I feel my concerns were actually justified a bit). The doctor said there were only a few tablespoons, if that is possible. But her baby was over 8 pounds and healthy.

Oh...and she also ate lots of fish from local (and VERY polluted) rivers/streams. Ack.

I know we over-do it here in the US with all the restrictions. But I did worry that my dad's wife basically had no knowledge of certain risks -- that she didn't have the information available to make educated decisions.
ainh is offline  
Old 07-03-2008, 04:32 PM
 
racidoodle's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: western ny
Posts: 262
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
while there definitely are cultural differences, i feel we have to be careful not to generalize. my best friend and i are very similar (same nationality and race, similar backgrounds, similar life experiences), yet we approach our pregnancies very differently. i'm approaching my second pregnancy very differently from my first. media definitely has a strong influence on women in our culture, but i don't think most american women approach preganancy and childbirth the same way as the celebrities we see.

it's really interesting to study cultural differences, but i hesitate to take one woman's point of view as represenative of her entire culture.
racidoodle is offline  
Old 07-03-2008, 05:09 PM
 
saritajoy's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Costa Rica
Posts: 139
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Hi Ainh,

That's scary about your dad's Tica (Costa Rican) wife's habits.

I live in Costa Rica in the Central Valley (near Heredia city), so I'm definitely in contact with the more urban lifestyle, but I do visit rural communities regularly. We have socialized healthcare, so it's available to everyone, although you might have to wait! Can't remember the specifics, but the hospital protocols for birthing mothers aren't my cup of tea - they regularly give the drug to make contractions faster and more intense (thus more painful) while not giving any pain meds. Most women give birth vaginally, but elective caesareans are becoming available at private hospitals. Giving birth at home is generally considered strange and unsafe (just ask my DP's two aunts who are obstetric nurses!) My MW is also an obstetric nurse and is actually working with the women's hospital to gradually change that protocol.

My DP is a Tico and his aunts and cousins and mom have all drunk coffee regularly throughout pregnancy and their kids are healthy. I'm sure that they had more than the 1-2 cups of coffee that is "allowed" according to pregnancy books these days, but they were more controlled about caffeine intake during pregnancy. The Costa Rican diet is generally healthy though pretty starchy - beans and rice and yucca and plantains. Vegetables usually get cooked as part of side dishes. But the fruit, oh, the fruit! Fresh fruit is usually prepared in frescos (drinks with water) or batidos (with ice cream or milk). Since the advent of blenders it's been normal to have at least one or two glasses a day... probably before blenders they tended to eat fresh fruit straight like I do! I see what you are saying about the fish - people in rural areas tend to eat what's most readily available and haven't been educated about the contaminants. Just 10 years ago there weren't any contaminants to speak of, so things are changing fast all over the world.

It's just now becoming "normal" to eat processed food in Costa Rica, which I see will become a problem for everyone's health, but especially pregnant women. Also cookware - most families can only afford aluminum or cheap teflon style, with their related health hazards. My stainless steel and cast iron cookware is viewed as strange and "too much trouble". I'm sure it's the same in other parts of the developing world. Yikes!

My MW has already encouraged me to collect stories, pregnancy remedies, and old wives tales during my pregnancy. I'm accepted and loved : by my DP's Tico family (not just an expat alone in Costa Rica), so I have a unique window into Costa Rican traditions. I'll keep you all updated as I learn new and interesting things!

Mama to Gabriel (1-10-2009) and newborn Helena (10-9-2011) h20homebirth.gif with DP Julio.  ...cloth diapering, attachment parenting, infant EC-ing, etc.

saritajoy is offline  
Old 07-03-2008, 08:32 PM
 
sraplayas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: land of tomorrow
Posts: 1,312
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
We live in Mexico and living out a pregnancy here is definitely a different experience than in the states.

As in Costa Rica, it seems that Mexican women are accostumed to drinking coffee during pregnancy.

Keeping the baby warm (while in utero) is very important, too. Such as, "have some soup to keep the baby warm".

One aspect of Mexican culture that I really enjoy (and there are many) is the general level of good etiquette. Pregnant women are just given more deference--and the bigger you are, the more people go out of their way to help you! For instance, since we live close to San Diego, I had the opportunity with my last pregnancy to make some comparisons. In San Diego, I was in an upscale grocery store (at about 8 months) standing in line for the bathroom. The women in front of me had to "use the bathroom so badly" while I stood there trying not to pee my pants. In Mexico, people routinely would step aside so I could go first.

Also, women pat your tummy alot. Even with this pregnancy, I am not nearly showing yet but upon leaving a recent breakfast event, most of the women told me to "take care of yourself" "rest!" and along with the polite kiss they each patted my tummy.

I would say also in contrast to the French woman's pregnant diet perspective, Mexicans would encourage you to "eat, eat eat!" :

SAHM bf.gif, DH reading.gif, DD  (03/05) dust.gif, DS1hola.gif(01/09), DS2 babyf.gif(06/12) & dog2.gif

sraplayas is offline  
Old 07-03-2008, 09:45 PM
 
xakana's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Missouri
Posts: 1,488
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by mustangtbn View Post
I do think that at the same time as Americans consider pregnant women to be more delicate than we actually are, there is also a lot of pressure (particularly if you are working) to push yourself as hard as you would if you weren't pregnant, which isn't good either.
You aren't kidding. I had someone yell at me when I was almost nine months pregnant for not being willing to help move heavy tables and stuff for vendors (bird fair)--her argument "I was working right up until I had my baby, this is nothing!" I just stared at her, I'd already mentioned that I was having trouble with my pregnancy, especially since I'd been in a car accident only a couple months before. I was in a wheelchair the next week, by the way. I DID push myself too hard (I didn't help her move the stupid tables, though, I'd already injured myself with house moving when I dropped the dining room table into my stomach and knocked myself down). I just couldn't believe how insensitive and rude she was!

Talkative, AP SAHMama to my bright and spirited girls Lilly 10-15-06, Naomi 1-1-09 vbac.gif and Katarina 11-16-11 vbac.gif

blogging.jpgMusing Mommy
xakana is offline  
Old 07-03-2008, 09:46 PM
 
xakana's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Missouri
Posts: 1,488
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by sraplayas View Post
We live in Mexico and living out a pregnancy here is definitely a different experience than in the states.

As in Costa Rica, it seems that Mexican women are accostumed to drinking coffee during pregnancy.

Keeping the baby warm (while in utero) is very important, too. Such as, "have some soup to keep the baby warm".

One aspect of Mexican culture that I really enjoy (and there are many) is the general level of good etiquette. Pregnant women are just given more deference--and the bigger you are, the more people go out of their way to help you!
That's awesome. IMO, that's how it SHOULD be.

Talkative, AP SAHMama to my bright and spirited girls Lilly 10-15-06, Naomi 1-1-09 vbac.gif and Katarina 11-16-11 vbac.gif

blogging.jpgMusing Mommy
xakana is offline  
Old 07-08-2008, 12:46 PM
 
mustangtbn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: just this side of Utopia
Posts: 236
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by sraplayas View Post
One aspect of Mexican culture that I really enjoy (and there are many) is the general level of good etiquette. Pregnant women are just given more deference--and the bigger you are, the more people go out of their way to help you! :
I would say that for the most part I have experienced this here in the states as well. I was visiting with a friend in downtown Boston while I was 7 months (and very visibly) pregnant last time. Public restrooms are few and far between there, but of course I had to go about every 30 minutes. Every single place we went and asked for a restroom, the response would be essentially the same - while looking at my belly, the person would say "We don't have public restrooms, but follow me and I'll take you to the employee restrooms." And when we did find public restrooms, with LONG lines for the women, they all practically insisted that I go straight to the front of the line, even if I said I could wait!

I love when people are nice! :

T , mom to S and C
mustangtbn is offline  
Old 07-08-2008, 01:33 PM
 
jennasuz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Central Coast, CA
Posts: 61
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
sraplayas and saritajoy, I loved reading your posts! It is fascinating, the cultural differences and habits. Whenever I visit one of the wineries I represent, all my Mexican friends who work in the cellar pat my belly, too. They say it is good luck in their culture. Of course, I still don't have much of a belly to speak of, but they know there's a baby in there somewhere!

I wonder if the unsolicited advice I receive constantly here in the states is just as common in other cultures? I know people are just trying to help, but sometimes I find it extremely rude for someone I hardly know telling me about his or her sister's 4 miscarriages or her own constant constipation in her third trimester!

I'm thinking of having a t-shirt made that says, "No Unsolicited Advice." Let me know if you want one.
jennasuz is offline  
Old 07-08-2008, 02:08 PM
 
nerdymom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: too far away from the mountains, VA
Posts: 2,687
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
What a good thread! Mind if I lurk on over from november? :

I work in a hotel, and there are sooo many immigrants who work here. It's really neat to hear all the different advise and etc. I work in the kitchen and the [older - my grandma's age] women in the bakeshop (both Philipino) keep bringing me tasty bits and snacks. I asked one day why they were doing that, and the one lady told me that in their culture, if a mother does not get to eat what she loves and wants, then the baby will be born with an unattractive birthmark. Since they know I have a sweet tooth, they try to keep me stocked up.

A lot of my hispanic friends get very excited about pregnancy and I have noticed that I do get offers for more help but mostly a lot of rubbing my belly.

I think that pp is right, pregnancy and birth are so pathologized in our culture. I just eat when I'm hungry, I stop when I'm statisfied, I try to make sure I'm getting my 80-100 grams of protein and I take my supplements. Other than that I do whatever I want/need to. I have even had a glass of wine as a muscle relaxer after I overdid it and popped something in my back while I was moving. I just made sure I didn't take it on an empty stomache.

><> I'm a Christian, knitting, sewing, cooking SAHM to the fearless adventurer Jack born 11/08, and  a  USCG wife
And we are joyfully awaiting a new addition in April 2011! <><
nerdymom is offline  
Old 07-08-2008, 03:10 PM
 
HoneyTree's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: In the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas
Posts: 1,611
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have mixed feelings about cultural generalizations, too. I think no one person, no matter how "typical," fits every or even most of the stereotypes about his or her cultural or ethnic group or nationality. I am much more likely to support a statement that begins with something like, "The mainstream American media portray..." or "The American medical establishment insists..." rather than "American women do or believe..."

And I know that wasn't the purpose of this really interesting thread, I just had to get that out there since I had a gut reaction to the French woman launching into a comparison of American and French women.
HoneyTree is offline  
Old 07-08-2008, 03:21 PM
 
jennasuz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Central Coast, CA
Posts: 61
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
oopsie
jennasuz is offline  
Old 07-08-2008, 06:19 PM
 
CozMama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: CO
Posts: 212
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennasuz View Post
I'm thinking of having a t-shirt made that says, "No Unsolicited Advice." Let me know if you want one.
Sounds like a GREAT shirt to have!
CozMama is offline  
 
User Tag List

Thread Tools


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off