School of Medicine and Health Sciences Poster Presentations

Title

Exploring Traditional Birthing Methods in Ecuador as a model for U.S. Implementation

Document Type

Poster

Abstract Category

Women/Child Health

Keywords

Traditional Medicine, Vertical Birthing, Global Maternal Health

Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2019

Abstract

Ecuador, a country rooted in traditional healing practices, serves as a premier example of where biomedicine and traditional knowledge often intersect, and sometimes conflict, when addressing women's prenatal care. Many women seek parteras, or midwives, for their prenatal care while others choose to see an Obstetrician. Acknowledging the need for a more combined approach to women's health, Ecuador's Health Ministry implemented a program called “Attention for Culturally Appropriate Birth” that helps doctors learn more culturally appropriate birthing methods and allows parteras to have a more active role in hospital births. My objective was to explore how traditional and integrative methods are used in combination with western practices to address women's health needs in Ecuador and to better understand how the U.S. might be able to implement these practices. Methods used to explore these research questions included key informant interviews, site visits, literature review, and shadowing Ob-Gyn physicians and traditional Ecuadorian midwives (parteras) over 4 weeks. Student gained an in-depth understanding of how Ecuador has worked to integrate traditional birthing practices. Vertical birthing is a common method used in Ecuadorian indigenous communities allowing women to remain upright during childbirth so that the baby's head passes with more ease. This method is associated with fewer epistomies, C-sections, and fetal heart abnormalities, and less pain during labor. In our modern era, current prenatal health services often leave out traditional belief systems, which can inadvertently threaten a woman's access to prenatal care and this can lead to less safe delivery outcomes. Ecuador's initiatives can serve as a helpful model for the U.S. The use of midwives for prenatal care and birth is increasing rapidly in the U.S and it is extremely important that we also learn how best to integrate traditional and biomedical aspects of health care.

Open Access

1

Comments

Presented at Research Days 2019.

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Exploring Traditional Birthing Methods in Ecuador as a model for U.S. Implementation

Ecuador, a country rooted in traditional healing practices, serves as a premier example of where biomedicine and traditional knowledge often intersect, and sometimes conflict, when addressing women's prenatal care. Many women seek parteras, or midwives, for their prenatal care while others choose to see an Obstetrician. Acknowledging the need for a more combined approach to women's health, Ecuador's Health Ministry implemented a program called “Attention for Culturally Appropriate Birth” that helps doctors learn more culturally appropriate birthing methods and allows parteras to have a more active role in hospital births. My objective was to explore how traditional and integrative methods are used in combination with western practices to address women's health needs in Ecuador and to better understand how the U.S. might be able to implement these practices. Methods used to explore these research questions included key informant interviews, site visits, literature review, and shadowing Ob-Gyn physicians and traditional Ecuadorian midwives (parteras) over 4 weeks. Student gained an in-depth understanding of how Ecuador has worked to integrate traditional birthing practices. Vertical birthing is a common method used in Ecuadorian indigenous communities allowing women to remain upright during childbirth so that the baby's head passes with more ease. This method is associated with fewer epistomies, C-sections, and fetal heart abnormalities, and less pain during labor. In our modern era, current prenatal health services often leave out traditional belief systems, which can inadvertently threaten a woman's access to prenatal care and this can lead to less safe delivery outcomes. Ecuador's initiatives can serve as a helpful model for the U.S. The use of midwives for prenatal care and birth is increasing rapidly in the U.S and it is extremely important that we also learn how best to integrate traditional and biomedical aspects of health care.