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Midwifery. 2009 Apr;25(2):104-13. Epub 2007 Apr 3.

Antenatal taboos among Chinese women in Hong Kong.

Author information

1
School of Public Health, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong, China. dominiclee@cuhk.edu.hk

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

to identify the antenatal taboos commonly practised by pregnant Hong Kong Chinese women; to explore the health beliefs behind these taboos; and to examine how pregnant women perceived and reacted to the cultural tradition.

DESIGN:

general ethnography and in-depth interviews, followed by a quantitative self-reported survey.

SETTING:

Antenatal clinic of a university-affiliated hospital in Hong Kong.

PARTICIPANTS:

consecutive samples of 60 women for in-depth interviews, and 832 women for the survey.

MEASUREMENTS:

an inventory on the adherence and attitude towards antenatal taboos, and the Beck Depression Inventory that measures severity of depression.

FINDINGS:

antenatal taboos were still commonly observed by contemporary Chinese women. Miscarriage, fetus malformation and fetal ill-health were the key cultural fears that drove contemporary Chinese women to observe the traditional taboos. About one-quarter and one-tenth of the women, respectively, felt unhappy and disputed with their families about the taboos. These women had significantly higher levels of depression in late pregnancy and during childbirth.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE:

health-care practitioners should be aware of the benefits and risks of traditional antenatal taboos on maternal health. Although some taboos can be socio-morally protective, the tension created by the observation of cultural tradition in modernity may impair maternal psychological well-being. Health-care providers in Western countries should be vigilant of the complex cultural tension faced by migrant Chinese mothers.

PMID:
17408821
DOI:
10.1016/j.midw.2007.01.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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