Views of Cesarean Birth Among Primiparous Women of Mexican Origin in Los Angeles

Authors

  • Laura H. Cummins M.A.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laura H. Cummins is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology, and Susan C.M. Scrimshaw is with the School of Public Health and Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Patricia L. Engle is at the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.
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  • Susan CM. Scrimshaw Ph.D.,

    1. Laura H. Cummins is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology, and Susan C.M. Scrimshaw is with the School of Public Health and Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Patricia L. Engle is at the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.
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  • Patricia L. Engle Ph.D.

    1. Laura H. Cummins is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology, and Susan C.M. Scrimshaw is with the School of Public Health and Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Patricia L. Engle is at the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.
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  • This study was funded by a grant from NICHD Division of Maternal and Child Health, HD RO1, HD 13796–02, to Susan C. M. Scrimshaw, principal investigator.

Address inquiries to Laura H. Cummins, Department of Anthropology (341 Haines Hall), UCLA, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024.

Abstract

ABSTRACT: This study examined data from a larger project on the cultural context of first birth among low-income women of Mexican origin giving birth in Los Angeles. Data on knowledge of cesarean birth and perceptions of the cesarean birth experience were collected. In addition, differences in perceptions of the experience between women giving birth vaginally and those giving birth by cesarean as reported in the literature were assessed. Five hundred eighteen women were surveyed, of whom 58 had a cesarean birth. Statistical analyses revealed few significant differences between the two groups with regard to childbirth knowledge and attitudes, which may indicate that Latinas are different from the Anglo women discussed in the literature. In their postnatal assessment, 28 percent of the women giving birth by cesarean reported dissatisfaction with the experience, the majority regarded cesareans as “normal,” and 11 percent thought they were at an advantage to have had cesarean births. These results suggest that cultural beliefs and attitudes may affect a woman's perceptions of the childbirth experience. The findings discussed here have implications for cross-cultural research on childbirth for childbirth educators and for health care providers working in multicultural settings.

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