Public Health of Birth and Loss: Rituals from Around the World.




Paul, Marcy
Iyioriobhe, Emanehi


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Background: Across the world, cultures differ in their approach to childbirth or loss after pregnancy. This review examines possible connections between the socio-ecologic model (SEM) and rituals surrounding childbirth or child loss. Methods: A literature review addressed birth and loss practices around the world. Databases searched included PubMed, Scopus, Academic Search Complete, and Global Health from 2006 to 2016. Inclusion criteria were birth rituals, birth practices, infant death, and post-partum practices. Exclusion criteria were practices after miscarriages and childbirth or death after three years. Forty articles were selected and reviewed as full texts. The identified rituals were further grouped together into rituals based on modern medical practices, rituals based on culture and societal traditions, postpartum rituals, and religious rituals. Connections between the SEM behind the rituals were examined. Results: North America, Western, and Eastern Europe had macro-level factors such as national, state, and local laws that contributed to activities practiced during childbirth or loss after pregnancy. Organizational factors and community relationships played a role in the birth activities practiced in parts of Asia and South America. Religious factors, interpersonal and individual factors were identified in Africa. Conclusions: Birth rituals connected with influences such as societal factors and policies were seen in westernized countries, as compared to influences such as community norms, interpersonal relationships, and individual attitudes and beliefs which are seen in other parts of the world.