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Abstract

In India, practices relating to pregnancy, childbirth and child development have been rooted in cultural beliefs and traditions that are based on knowledge contained in ancient Indian texts. Many Indians residing across the globe continue to observe these practices. Some may find it challenging to do so when they are residing abroad, away from familiar surroundings and separated from their extended families. A small body of research exists that shows that migrant Indian women do observe traditional maternal practices based on cultural beliefs, but there is a need to learn more about how this knowledge is acquired, disseminated and preserved. This qualitative case study examines how immigrant women from India in the United States (US) acquire knowledge about and observe traditional maternal practices. Interviews and participant observation indicate that the women in this study adroitly mixed many traditional practices with the medical model of care provided in the US, and importantly, most of them followed these practices more as a deference to the norms laid out by their elders. The goal of traditional practices appeared to be to ensure birth of healthy infants.

Keywords

Cultural Beliefs, Immigrant, Indian Women, Pregnancy, Child Birth, Traditional, Maternity Practices, Case Study

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Rama Cousik is an Assistant Professor in Special Education. Dr. Cousik received her Ph.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington in 2011. She teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels on special education laws, inclusion, autism, collaboration and transition. Rama is interested in qualitative research and representing research findings in creative ways. Rama is specifically interested in using research poetry and understanding the intersections between culture and disability. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to cousikr@ipfw.edu.

Dr. M. Gail Hickey is a Professor of Educational Studies in the College of Education & Public Policy at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne in Fort Wayne, Indiana (USA). Dr. Hickey’s research focuses on the experiences and perspectives of contemporary U.S. migrants, with a special emphasis on gendered perspectives. She is the author or co-author of 24 books, 15 book chapters, and 70 journal articles. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to hickey@ipfw.edu.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Mrs. Elanah Barrow for her research assistance and Dr. Barry Kanpol, Professor, Educational Studies, IPFW for his support.

Publication Date

4-18-2016

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

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