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Keywords:

  • Chinese culture;
  • cultural values;
  • ethnography;
  • cross-cultural health practices postpartum care;
  • Taiwan childbirth

Abstract

Traditionally Chinese and Taiwanese postpartum women conducted postpartum ritual practices, called “doing the month,” at home. Today, many Taiwanese women undertake this ritual in postpartum nursing centers. However, little is known about how the traditional practices are being transformed in relation to contemporary health care in Taiwan. In this ethnographic study observations were carried out in a large post-partum center attached to a major hospital in Taipei for nine months, and 27 postpartum women were interviewed. Data were analyzed using ethnographic approaches to extract codes and categories. Doing the month was reshaped by being relocated from the home to a healthcare setting. Midwives took on roles traditionally taken by family members, which had an impact on family roles and relationships. Some postpartum practices were maintained, based on traditional explanations. However, many were modified or challenged, based on explanations from contemporary scientific knowledge. Midwives need to be aware that there could be differences between their culture of care and the cultural values of the women they care for. This study informs culturally appropriate postpartum care and support for women with traditional and contemporary cultural beliefs and attitudes to doing the month in a range of healthcare contexts.