Giving Birth: The Voices of Orthodox Jewish Women Living in Canada

Authors

  • Sonia E. Semenic,

    Corresponding author
    1. Sonia E. Semenic, RN, MSc(A), IBCLC, is a doctoral candidate at the School of Nursing, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
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  • Lynn Clark Callister,

    1. Lynn Clark Callister, RN, PhD, FAAN, is a professor of nursing at the Brigham Young University College of Nursing, Provo, Utah.
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  • Perle Feldman

    1. Perle Feldman, MDCM, FCFP, is an assistant professor of Family Medicine at McGill University, and a staff physician, Herzl Family Practice Center, Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
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  • Note. Throughout this article, the Orthodox Jewish custom of not writing out the name of the Deity will be followed. In Hebrew, the name of the Deity is written without vowels and is, therefore, unpronounceable.

Address for correspondence: Sonia Semenic, RN, MSc(A), IBCLC, School of Nursing, McGill University, 3506 University Street, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2A7 Canada. E-mail: sonia.semenic@mail.mcgill.ca.

Abstract

Objective: To describe the meaning of the childbirth experience to Orthodox Jewish women living in Canada.

Design: In this phenomenologic study, audio-taped interviews were conducted. Tapes were transcribed verbatim and analyzed for emergent themes. Demographic data also were collected.

Setting and Participants: Thirty Orthodox Jewish women who had given birth to healthy full-term newborns at a university-affiliated Jewish hospital in Montreal, Canada, participated in the study. Data were collected within 2 weeks after childbirth, either in the mother's postpartum hospital room or in her home.

Results: The following themes reflecting spiritual/ cultural dimensions of the childbirth experience were identified: (a) birth as a significant life event, (b) birth as a bittersweet paradox, (c) the spiritual dimensions of giving birth, (d) the importance of obedience to rabbinical law, and (e) a sense of support and affirmation.

Conclusion: This study documents cultural, religious, and spiritual dimensions of the childbirth experience of Orthodox Jewish women living in Canada. Knowledge and appreciation of the multiple dimensions of childbirth reflected by this study's findings can contribute to holistic and culturally competent nursing care of women and newborns.

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