Indigenous Experiences of Preguancy and Birth (Paperback)

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Traditional midwifery, culture, customs, understandings, and meanings surrounding
pregnancy and birth are grounded in distinct epistemologies and worldviews that
have sustained Indigenous women and their families since time immemorial. Years
of colonization, however, have impacted the degree to which women have choice in
the place and ways they carry and deliver their babies. As nations such as Canada
became colonized, traditional gender roles were seen as an impediment. The forced
rearrangement of these gender roles was highly disruptive to family structures.
Indigenous women quickly lost their social and legal status as being dependent on
fathers and then husbands. The traditional structures of communities became
replaced with colonially informed governance, which reinforced patriarchy and
paternalism. The authors in this book carefully consider these historic interactions
and their impacts on Indigenous women’s experiences. As the first section of the
book describes, pregnancy is a time when women reflect on their bodies as a space
for the development of life. Foods prepared and consumed, ceremony and other
activities engaged in are no longer a focus solely for the mother, but also for the child
she is carrying. Authors from a variety of places and perspectives thoughtfully
express the historical along with contemporary forces positively and negatively
impacting prenatal behaviours and traditional practices. Place and culture in
relation to birth are explored in the second half of the book from locations in Canada
such as Manitoba, Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and
Aotearoa. The reclaiming and revitalization of birthing practices along with
rejuvenating forms of traditional knowledge form the foundation for exploration
into these experiences from a political perspective. It is an important part of
decolonization to acknowledge policies such as birth evacuation as being grounded
in systemic racism. The act of returning birth to communities and revitalizing
Indigenous prenatal practices are affirmation of sustained resilience and strength,
instead of a one-sided process of reconciliation.

About the Author

Hannah Tait Neufeld is an Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition. Her research focuses on Indigenous health inequalities, taking into consideration community interests, along with other environmental factors influencing maternal child health and nutrition. Jaime Cidro is an Associate Professor at the University of Winnipeg in the Department of Anthropology. She works in the area of Indigenous social determinants of health, Indigenous food, maternal child health and most recently with Indigenous doulas and women who travel for birth.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781772581355
ISBN-10: 1772581356
Publisher: Demeter Press
Publication Date: October 1st, 2017
Pages: 208
Language: English