This paper is about the effect of superstitious beliefs and practices in the Philippines on pregnancy. It explores the role of nurses in caring for culturally diverse Filipino patients and families in a safe and effective way. The paper provides a historical background, topic facts, impact of the superstitious beliefs on pregnancy, nursing responsibilities, interventions, teachings and cultural impact on pregnancy.
The Philippines is a country of many superstitions and beliefs. These practices are handed down from their ancient forefathers. Filipino beliefs and practices have grown in number throughout the various regions and provinces in the country. Superstitious beliefs or practices are considered to be irrational beliefs about an object or action that can influence the consequences of an event (Francia, 2010). There is a great number of folk beliefs Filipinos carry starting from birth, childhood, adolescence, wedding and even death. These beliefs tend to talk about life, family, luck, wealth, and one of the most talked about is the reproductive health of a woman during and after pregnancy.
Topic Facts Filipinos have been famous for their superstitious beliefs and practices. These practices may be based on religious beliefs, opinions and real life experiences. According to some Filipino beliefs, cravings for food during pregnancy should be satisfied. Some pregnant women may avoid eating black foods to avoid the birth of an infant with dark skin tone. Unpleasant emotions experienced by pregnant women may be blamed for causing birthmarks. Traditional customs in the Philippines dictate that women should not bathe for about ten days after giving birth (Franchino, 2011). Bathing during these times is seen as a cause of ill health and rheumatism in old age. Sponge baths and steam baths could be used as alternatives. Filipina women may object to having a shower immediately after birth. Some Filipinas bind their abdomen tightly believing that the practice helps to prevent bleeding and helps the uterus to retract. Postpartum women may be massaged with coconut oil with the aim of restoring their lost health.
This practice is believed to help expel the blood clots from the uterus, restores the uterus into the prepregnant position and promotes lactation. Impact to Mother and Fetus Many of the customs surrounding the treatment of pregnant Filipina women come from hundreds of years ago when prenatal care was not available. It is the responsibility of the community and family to help the mother carry a child to term. The emotional state of the pregnant mother, surroundings and cultural influences have a profound effect on the health and development of the unborn child. In the Philippines, it is not permitted to argue with a pregnant woman.
She always has the last word. The behavior of the pregnant woman is believed to affect the unborn baby. They are protected from any trauma or shock. The pregnant woman is forbidden to have any cruel or bad thoughts. One of the most awaited stages in the life of a Filipina is their reproduction (Hicks, 2011). It is also considered the most susceptible part with regards to health. Families, especially the husband and parents give their utmost care and support to the woman who is pregnant.
Nursing Responsibilities It is the responsibility of a nurse to be a culturally competent provider. A nurse must value diversity and respect individual differences regardless of one’s age, race, religious beliefs, or ethnocultural background. A nurse must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of their client’s culture, health related needs and culturally specific meanings of health and illness. A nurse must resist judgmental attitudes. Being open and comfortable with cultural encounters is a major responsibility that nurses must face. Nurses should accept responsibility for one’s own education in cultural competence by attending conferences, reading professional literature, and observing cultural practices (Purnell, 2009). There are differences among cultures but one culture is not better than the other.
Nursing Interventions Nursing interventions are designed to help the client meet the desired outcomes of pregnancy. Interventions include care to the Filipina client as well as the family. A nurse should assess family structure and availability of significant others and family. Filipino culture is very communal and interdependent. This collective culture has an impact in the care of the pregnant mother. Family members and neighbors work together to care for the pregnant mother. This atmosphere supports the well-being of both mother and fetus. Nursing Teaching Filipino culture greatly influences how a patient learns. Most Filipinos are observant. During a teaching session, a pregnant Filipina’s nod may have several meanings. It may indicate comprehension, agreement or some other message that may be difficult for the client to disclose. It is important to know who has the authority in the patient’s culture.
In a contemporary Filipino family, decisions are largely influenced by the intimate circle of family. A nurse must consider that a pregnant Filipina respects the opinions of a network of family and community health advisers. They are important for building trust and rapport in the client-provider relationship. Cultural Impact This paper has looked at the beliefs and practices in pregnancy that impact Filipino culture. A culturally competent health care and community involvement are recommended strategies for improving health care (Lowdermilk, Perry, Cashion & Alden, 2012). It influences how the mother and fetus is cared for during pregnancy. These beliefs are practiced because Filipinos believe that that there is nothing to lose if they comply with these beliefs. A nurse should incorporate the cultural health practices of a client in the teaching plan for it to be effective. The Philippines has maintained and passed on a lot of customary beliefs. These beliefs are still practiced today.
Franchino, V., (2011). Philippines (1st ed.). Ann Arbor, Michigan: Cherry Lake Publishing. Francia, L., (2010). A history of the Philippines from Indio Bravos to Filipinos (1st ed.). New York: Overlook Press.
Hicks, N., (2011). Enchanting Philippines (1st ed.). Oxford: John Beaufoy Publishing. Lowdermilk, D.L., Perry, S., Cashion, K., & Alden, K.R., (2012). Maternity and women’s health care (10th ed.). Missouri: Mosby.
Purnell, L., (2009). Guide to culturally competent health care (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.
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