Experiences of Bangladeshi and Gujarati women in childbirth
This thesis is about the pregnancy and childbirth experiences of two different groups of Asian women in Britain. It sets out to address the issues surrounding pregnancy and childbirth from the women's point of view. This is an attempt to redress the balance in the previous research on Asian women which has often portrayed them as a homogeneous group with 'problems'. An overview of the literature focuses on how Asian communities and, in particular, Asian women are portrayed. In order to provide a context for the issues which emerge in this research, attention is paid, first, to how Asian communities and, in particular Asian women, are viewed by mainstream society and, second, to cultural attitudes towards the sexual politics of reproduction. The main theme of the research is the degree of control the women were able to exercise given the constraints of western medicalised childbirth practices in Britain, traditional childbirth practices and the role played by the women's relatives during pregnancy and childbirth. The study draws on in-depth interviews (during and after pregnancy) with two samples of Asian women- the first Gujarati, the second Bangladeshi. In addition, two Gujarati case studies and two Bangladeshi case studies provide further insights into the lives of these two groups of women. The women's perceptions of their experiences of pregnancy and childbirth are emphasised by the use of the actual quotes which give some indication of the way these women conceptualised the issues which confronted them. The final chapter of the thesis concludes with a discusses of the position of Asian women within the current childbirth debate and makes suggestions for improving the delivery of maternity services to the Gujarati and Bangladeshi women in particular and to Asian women in general.