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Saint Michael’s College

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Program Name

China: Health, Environment, and Traditional Chinese Medicine


While childbirth is universal, it is undeniable that class, culture, ethnicity, and the scientific and political state of medicine all influence how women experienced it. The Tibetan ethnic minority of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is a culture that exemplifies the uniqueness of each birth. Due to both their distinctive childbirth beliefs and practices, as well as the swift changes China has undergone, Tibetan birthing experiences are asking to be explored.

This study will focus on two major factors influencing Tibetan women's birthing experiences. To begin, research will be done to understand the Buddhist influences surrounding pregnancy and childbirth, from conception, through gestation, until birth. Questions concerning religious impact 1will be intertwined in more common and general pregnancy experience question (Appendix A). Secondly, the impact China’s quick modernization has had on the birthing practices of this ethnic minority, (specifically the implementation of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Maternal and Child Health Care (MCHL), will be looked at. Despite China’s extensive growth in healthcare in the last 50 years, many previous studies of birthing practices in Tibetan ethnic minority regions still show maternal mortality ratios remaining among the highest in the world (Adams, Miller, Chertow, & Craig, 2001). Why, despite the recent and strictly enforced law, have tibetan communities continued to suffer in childbirth more than the rest of China? Further, how has the MHCL impacted their traditional Tibetan Buddhist birthing practices? Overall, this study will work to gather a full picture of a Tibetan woman experience in childbirth- including but not limited to her religious beliefs, her psychological and physical health, as well as the positive and negative effects of the MCHL.


Asian Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Maternal and Child Health | Public Health | Women's Health


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