Biological variations and nursing care of childbearing women
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There are a number of cultural beliefs and practices which nurses may encounter when dealing with women’s health. Cultural beliefs and practices are continuously evolving making it necessary for nurses to acknowledge the various cultures and explore the meaning of childbearing (Deger, 2017).Some of these issues are directly linked to biological variations in women for example menstruation. Most women who undergo menstruation often have the potential of bearing children. Research has shown that menstruation is often associated with physical discomfort, increased emotionality and restricted social and physical activities. In some cultures, and religions, women who are menstruating are viewed as ritually impure and are not allowed to participate in religious ceremonies.
These negative attitudes towards menstruation are likely to influence adjustment to the emergence of maturity, femininity and sexuality. Nurses that work with women therefore have to be aware that culture, religion and society are crucial factors in the development of attitudes towards menstruation.
Similarly, childbirth is one of life’s most significant events and the perinatal period is accompanied by many culturally shaped beliefs. Nurses need to realise areas where there may be differences between traditional cultural practices and the current western practices (Deger, 2017). It is helpful to assess what being pregnant means to an expectant mother. Moreover, some women view pain as a necessary part of the birth process and satisfaction with the birth experience is often associated with the sense of fulfilment. Nurses are thus enabled to become culturally sensitive when they understand that responses to pain differ according to cultural norms. Nurses can therefore learn how to properly support and comfort the women and coaching the people accompanying the labouring mother so that culturally competent care can be exercised.
Research has shown that Hispanic women experience higher rates of perinatal death varying by country of origin. Little research currently exists on the experiences of such women meaning that nurses have no guidance with regards to caring for this vulnerable population (Sobel, 2016).
It is important to first consider the risk factors for perinatal loss among these people. Hispanic women have been shown to have a number of factors that lead to loss for example, there is a higher teen birth ratio, more births to unmarried mothers and twice the likelihood of receiving late care or no care at all. There are a number of ways in which members of the Hispanic community mourn their loss. Many Hispanic families believe in the spiritual and psychological continuity with the dead which takes the form of a continuous relationship which is nurtured through prayer. Open expression of grief is viewed as healthy and it is widely encouraged.
In dealing with such women, research has shown that allowing them to view the baby resulted in lower depression rates. While nurses have to be culturally sensitive when dealing with Hispanic women who have experienced loss, viewing the body or collecting mementos would be an appropriate intervention for such women. Nurses should talk to the parents and determine the rituals that would comfort them at the time of loss (Sobel, 2016).
There needs to be open and caring communication which can be done through describing the practices of the institution and asking the parents if there are other practices they would prefer. In case there is a language barrier, the assistance of a translator. Further, due to the religious nature of such communities, nurses should ask if a meeting with the pastoral staff or a blessing for the infant are desired. Finally, nurses can act as liaisons to ensure that Hispanic parents are introduced to support services and they must be sensitive to the fact that many family members might be in attendance for support.
Cultural beliefs play a critical role in caring for patients. These cultural beliefs can be classified as prescriptive, restrictive, taboos and predictive. Prescriptive beliefs entail beliefs that are encouraged for pregnant women for example the fact that conceiving mothers are encouraged to be happy since this will have an impact on the baby or that food cravings should be provided.
For restrictive beliefs, these a beliefs relating to things that women during their pregnancy cannot do for example, a conceiving mother should not wear anything around her neck or that they should avoid watching scary movies or ugly images because it may cause the baby to resemble that object and that they should avoid witnessing an eclipse since it may lead to stillbirths.
Beliefs and practices about postpartum period are culturally patterned. In most non-western countries, postpartum period lasts up to 40 days and women are kept warm and stay inside so as to avoid wind or cold drafts. Bathing is generally discouraged because of the cooling effect afterwards (Goyal, 2016). Due to the limitations that are placed on such women, it is important for postpartum nurses to benefit from the understanding the beliefs that underpin the said practices for example through coming up with alternative methods to ensure hygiene is maintained.
Deger, V. B. (2017). Transcultural Nursing. In N. Ulutasdemir, Nursing. IntechOpen.
Goyal, D. (2016). Perinatal Practices & Traditions Among Asian Indian Women. Wolters Kluwer Health.
Sobel, L. L. (2016). Guiding the Provcess of Culturally Competent Care With Hispanic Patients: A Grounded Theory of Study. National Library of Medicine.
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