Childbirth in Haiti A Non-Western Culture

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Childbirthin Haiti: A Non-Western Culture


Child Birth in Haiti: A Non-Western Culture

Childbirth in Haiti is plagued with social and cultural challenges.For example, the country has experienced various natural disastersthat have incapacitated its poor economy (Jacobs, Judd, &amp Bhutta,2016). According to the World Bank, 80% of Haitians live below thepoverty line (Jacobs et al., 2016). The entire population experiencespoor health outcomes due to low availability of proper medicalservices. Such conditions accentuate the problem of childbirth inHaiti. In fact, the country has relatively high mortality rates forpregnant women and children in the Caribbean (Jacobs et al., 2016).Since 2010, the nation’s neonatal mortality rate has been estimatedat 25 per 1000 live births. On the other hand, the mortality rate ofinfants was measured at 55 deaths per 1000 live births (Jacobs etal., 2016). Hence, 75% of infant deaths occurred during the firstyear of life. The child mortality rate was estimated at 73 per 1000births, especially for children under five years. These rates weremore than double the corresponding rates in neighboring nations(Jacobs et al., 2016). In this paper, I will argue that childbirth inHaiti can be improved through the use of obstetric-pediatricianfeeding, breastfeeding training, modified education, and midwifetraining.


Cianelli et al. (2014) examined the healthcare needs in Haiti usingboth quantitative and qualitative methods. The researchers noted thatneonatal and maternal mortality rates in Haiti were among the mostpronounced worldwide. 80 Haitian women and 39 healthcare workers wereused to provide responses to certain questions. The researchersfocused on staff training, mother-child interactions, and access tohealthcare. 47.5% of the women experienced partner abuse while 60%had home deliveries. More than 90% of the respondents did not usecondoms during sexual intimacy while 70% had not undergone HIVtesting. Over 40% of the women gave newborns meals that were harmfulfor their development. Consequently, the researchers showed theimportance of breastfeeding training, obstetric-pediatric feeding,nurse programs, midwife training, and intensive HIV-testing programs.

De Baca, Sotomayor-Peterson, Smith-Castro, &amp Figueredo (2014)investigated the impact of cultural and familial practices onchildrearing behaviors. The authors highlighted the importance ofsocietal principles and goals on ensuring effective childrearing.Hence, they used a comprehensive approach designed to identify thecorrelations between life history strategies andmatrilineal/patrilineal kin. Childcare assistance from relativescontributed to a positive environment. Hence, material support fromfamily members could improve the childbirth and childrearing outcomesin Haiti.

Gibson, Bowles, Jansen, &amp Leach (2013) documented theirexperiences during a medical mission into Haitian ruralneighborhoods. The authors revealed their findings while educatingtraditional birth attendants about safer childbirth practices. Mostbirths occurred at home since the area was remote and had neithermedical professionals nor accessible facilities. Childbirth educationwas also challenging due to the lack of sanitation, safe watersupply, and electricity. Hence, the researchers were unable to useelectronic, high-tech teaching aids. The authors resorted to visualaids and low-tech techniques customarily used in Lamaze classes.Childbirth outcomes in Haiti could be improved by using modifiedteaching strategies to educate midwives and other low-level birthattendants.

Jacobs et al. (2016) proposed several strategies designed to lowerthe moratility rates of children and pregnant mothers. In particular,the authors suggested the implementation of community care grids.This network would be implemented across the country to increase theeffectiveness of frontline interventions. The authors also proposedthe construction of a referral institution to provide essential careto needy communities. The facility would need to be centrally locatedto ensure easy access. The researchers sought to take advantage ofHaiti’s proximity to American medical practitioners. Hence,experienced volunteers could mentor Haitian healthcare professionalsand improve patient care. The research compared Haitian infant andmortality rates with those in other countries within the WesternHemisphere. In fact, the healthcare crisis was comparable to that inAfrican countries. However, the researchers were confident ofreversing such trends due to the proposed evidence-based strategies.

Mirkovic et al. (2017) examined the quality and uptake of maternalhealthcare in Haiti. The authors recognized the positive outcomesassociated with greater access to antenatal and postnatal care.Notwithstanding, maternal mortality was measured at higher than 350deaths per 100,000 live births. The researchers conducted exitinterviews among 894 women seeking medical care. The majority ofpregnant women were neither provided with counseling messages norencouraged to seek postnatal care. Notably, the researchers notedthat both antenatal and postnatal care in Haiti were sub-optimal. Theauthors proposed the implementation of regular provider trainings toimprove quality of care. Standardized counseling messages would alsohelp to enhance the uptake of antenatal and postnatal care.


The most interesting aspect about childbirth in Haiti concerns theimpact of primary factors on poor health outcomes. Inadequacies anddisparities in healthcare have crippled the country’s economic andsocial development. Some of the pertinent issues include high-riskdeliveries in low-level facilities, low percentage of prenatal andpostnatal programs, and fewer skilled birth attendants. Healthcareprofessionals lack proper training while hospitals cannot adequatelyserve the entire population. Natural disasters such as the earthquakein 2010 have prevented the country from experiencing proper economicgrowth. The destruction of hospitals and infrastructure hasheightened the disparities associated with childbirth.

Haitians are hampered by limited accessibility to medical servicesdue to transportation limitations, financial barriers, andgeographical isolation. The nation is recognized as the mostmountainous country in the Caribbean. Rural residents experienceworse health outcomes in comparison to urban households. In fact,children in rural areas are more likely to die before reaching 5years of age than those in urban regions. Poverty limits access tohealthcare due to the high costs of medical services. Many pregnantwomen prefer to undergo home deliveries and hence increase the riskof neonatal deaths. The poor condition of rural roads also limits thepracticality of motorized transport.

The poor outcomes associated with childbirth in Haiti reflect thepower of entrenched cultural practices. Most people view medicalservices are unnecessary since pregnancy is a blessing. The majorityof women prefer home deliveries under the guidance of birthattendants. Qualifications and training are not required since thelatter possess inborn skills. The use of contraceptives is limitedand hence enhances the spread of infections. Pregnant women arerequired to proceed with their usual duties. The lack of restraintduring pregnancy exposes women to premature deliveries. Consequently,cultural practices hamper childbirth outcomes in Haiti.

In comparison, childbirth in the U.S. has successful health outcomesdue to several reasons. The superpower has established an elaboratetransport network with paved roads. Hence, most of the regions havehealthcare facilities that are easily accessible. The U.S. also hashighly-qualified medical practitioners with extensive training. Infact, many medical professionals decide to volunteer in poorcountries such as Haiti. The American healthcare system uses moderntechnology to provide quality prenatal and postnatal care forpregnant women. High literacy levels in the U.S. make it possible forwomen to learn and adopt proper childrearing techniques. Healthcareinsurance allows women to afford medical services wherever they live.Hence, the number of home deliveries is relatively low despite thefact that the U.S. has a greater population than Haiti.


Indeed, childbirth outcomes in Haiti can be lowered through trainingand education initiatives. The country has the highest rates of childmortality in the Caribbean. Haiti is plagued by extreme poverty,unfavorable topography, and disastrous calamities. In particular, the2010 earthquake caused widespread devastation. Many pregnant womenresort to home deliveries due to the high costs associated withmedical care. Geographical isolation reduces the accessibility ofhealthcare facilities. Providing midwives and other practitionerswith adequate training can enhance their skills during childbirth.Medical practitioners should counsel pregnant women to seek postnatalcare. The latter should also be encouraged to adopt properbreastfeeding techniques. Medical costs can be subsidized usingforeign aid to improve the uptake of prenatal care. Furthermore,stakeholders should use modified teaching strategies to educate birthattendants in rural areas where healthcare facilities arenonexistent. A centralized facility could be setup to providespecialty care to affected persons within the community.


Cianelli, R., Mitchell, E., Albuja, L., Wilkinson, C., Anglade, D.,Chery, M., &amp Peragallo, N. (2014). Maternal–Child Health NeedsAssessment in Haiti. International Journal of Applied Science andTechnology, 4(5), 30.

De Baca, T. C., Sotomayor-Peterson, M., Smith-Castro, V., &ampFigueredo, A. J. (2014). Contributions of Matrilineal and PatrilinealKin Alloparental Effort to the Development of Life History Strategiesand Patriarchal Values A Cross-Cultural Life History Approach.Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 45(4), 534-554.

Gibson, M., Bowles, B. C., Jansen, L., &amp Leach, J. (2013).Childbirth education in rural Haiti: reviving low-tech teachingstrategies. The Journal of Perinatal Education, 22(2),93-102.

Jacobs, L. D., Judd, T. M., &amp Bhutta, Z. A. (2016). Addressingthe Child and Maternal Mortality Crisis in Haiti through a CentralReferral Hospital Providing Countrywide Care. The PermanenteJournal, 20(2), 59.

Mirkovic, K. R., Lathrop, E., Hulland, E. N., Jean-Louis, R.,Lauture, D., D’Alexis, G. D., … &amp Grand-Pierre, R. (2017).Quality and uptake of antenatal and postnatal care in Haiti. BMCPregnancy and Childbirth, 17(1), 52.