Constructions of Birth: Rural, Poor Women facing Challenges in Socio-cultural and Political context of Bangladesh.


This chapter is about the construction of birth in rural Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, maternal deaths are very prevalent, 320 per 100,000 live births annually, and the construct of birth that is produced in everyday life results in many unwarranted and unnecessary deaths. Various social constructions of birth are observed in everyday life, both in indigenous ways and hospital birth practices. The power of knowledge is multidirectional and influences individuals to follow certain norms and practices which critically shape health-seeking behaviour. This paper draws on numerous case studies and observational experiences from ethongraphic studies, carried out in 1998 and 2001 to highlight how understanding of birth is shaped by birth experiences of women and influenced by the context in which meaning is produced. In Bangladesh, most poor women prefere indigenous birth or home birthing. No matter where and how the birthing is constructed , ultimately it affects the marginalised populations, that is, poor, rural women. Women face poor care in a health system which is inadequate and over-medicalised and marginalises local knowledge and practices. The critical gap in understanding the meaning of home births as opposed to hospital obstetric care needs to be recognised, if we want to see improvement in the maternal health situation in Bangladesh.


In Helaine Selin (Editor), Childbirth Across Cultures: Ideas and Practices of Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Postpartum. Springer Publications, USA, ISBN: 978-90-481-2598-2

Published 1 January 2009