Amish view pregnancy and childbirth as normal biological functions of the female body, however; due to their cultural beliefs they will not seek out prenatal care until late in their pregnancy, if no problems arise. Women who are primiparous, giving birth for the first time, will generally seek prenatal care at around four months, while those who are multiparous, those who have given birth multiple times, generally seek prenatal care during the third trimester. Amish women typically do not outright reject the use of modern medical technology and practices if it can assist in the pregnancy, however; they must determine which practices coincide with their cultural and spiritual belief system. Many Amish women will seek the advice and care from modern medical professionals as well as family and friends, such as taking prenatal vitamins as well as herbal remedies (Campanella et all, 1993). Amish women tend to adhere to a “regular” diet of fresh fruits, vegetables and protein. However, many women do believe in the necessity of increasing their intake of dairy, especially milk during their pregnancy (Kulig et all, 2004).
Several barriers are present that dissuade many Amish women from receiving modern prenatal care due to their cultural and spiritual beliefs. Cost can be a major factor when it comes to modern prenatal treatment, as many Amish families could not afford it. Transportation is also a factor when it comes to prenatal treatment. The overwhelming majority of Amish transport is the horse-drawn carriage. Perhaps the largest barrier present is the cultural system of the Amish itself. The Amish are humble and modest, and as such, are loathe revealing their nudity, so much so that many women would not permit physical assessment and prenatal care from a male physician (Campanella et all, 1993).
Labor & Birth
Almost all Amish communities have a birthing center where nearly all Amish births occur, while some choose to have home births. IVs are available for use if desired, but are completely optional. Fetal heart rate monitoring is usually done via Doppler at set intervals. Nearly all furniture for the birthing center, such as: bed frames, bassinets, tables, cabinets, etc. is made from Amish craftsmen from within the community (Showalter, 2000).
Labor and childbirth are a private matter to Amish families with only the mother, father, and few midwives attending. The role of the husband is one of support and gentle aid when applicable. The husband rubs the back and shoulders of his wife, holds her hand, cools her with a hand fan, and provides words of comfort. Labor and childbirth for Amish women is very quiet and, on average, shorter when compared to the labor and childbirths of other women; this could be a testament to the strong-willed convictions of the Amish women’s cultural beliefs that aids them in this traumatic process (Showalter, 2000).
Post Partum care is generally short as the mother and infant are taken care of by the...