The hispanic population on the
Big Island, along with the entire U. S. is growing rapidly. For this reason health care professionals need to focus on the  importance of their cultural beliefs and rituals during pregnancy.  The contents contained within this page should not be used for self-care or treatments of any type.  It is strictly for informational purpose only. If you are pregnant, please seek medical attention from a professional health care provider.

The pregnant mother will be encouraged to rest frequently, walk, eat well and get plenty of sleep. Familialism, plays a major role in the support of the pregnant women and discourages heavy work or harmful activities such smoking , drinking, or drug use. Women who are attentive mothers are highly respected.  If finances permit, women with strong traditional beliefs readily relinquish jobs to ensure a healthy birth outcome.  Latinas generally seek prenatal care at much later stages of pregnancy. This tendency may be partially explained  by the perception of pregnancy as a normal  phenomenon rather than a condition necessitating medical treatment. Latinas are modest about their bodies, they prefer a female health care provider for prenatal exams.

Folk beliefs
Latinas believe that unsatisfied pregnancy cravings cause birth marks; milk is avoided because it causes large babies and difficult births; drinking chamomile tea is thought to assure effective labor; exposure of pregnant women to an eclipse will cause their infants to have a cleft lip or palate.  Some women wear a red string around their abdomen to prevent a cleft lip or palate.  They also believe that an infant may have characteristics of an object that the mother craves during pregnancy if the craving is not satisfied.

Labor and Delivery
is common for grandmother to move into the expecting family's home during last weeks of pregnancy and weeks following delivery.  Walking is recommended to ensure quick birth. One folk belief is that inactivity will result in loss of amniotic fluid, causing fetus to stick ( se pega) to the uterus.  Fear of unnecessary or dangerous medical interventions, separation from family members, and loss of physical privacy leads many women to labor at home for much of their labor.   Supportive female family members are present to help.  They go to the hospital when labor is well advanced. Traditionally, men are not present at delivery. Normal spontaneous vaginal delivery is preferred. Mexican American women fear cesarean births.

Latina's traditionally have a forty day period of recuperation called "La Cuarentena".  During this period family members also prepare "purgantes" (home remedies) for the mother that are said to help her body to eliminate impurities from the birth.  Postpartum depression will not occur if these purgantes are taken.  Women are cared for by other women, but are expected to care for their newborn child on their own.  New mother's are discouraged from taking showers for several days, and also discouraged from getting out of bed for the first few hours after birth.  Light foods are provided, including "caldo de pollo" (chicken bouillon), herbal teas, and tortillas, beans are avoided.  Formula promotion in
latin america has lead some women to believe breastfeeding is less nutritious, although most women do breastfeed. 

Beliefs vary from family to family and we've tried to encompass as many beliefs as possible.

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Updated October 7, 2005