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A Powerful Culture Shift in International Women’s Health Care

Women's health and women's healthcare concept with uterus

International differences in women’s health care has put the topic under scrutiny worldwide.

Women face limited resources when it comes to health care, depending on the country they live in. Doctors can ignore their concerns and sometimes they simply don’t have the same level of care as other countries.

Avery Aasmundstad is double majoring in Spanish and Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University.

(Graphic created by Abby Weaver)

“When you look at gender norms in a society … I feel like women’s anatomy is not talked about enough,” Aasmundstad saya. “Especially when it comes to childbirth.” 

CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

Countries go off of what they believe is the best practice. But that can cause discrepancies internationally with how one treats a woman’s medical needs. If these countries can’t provide women with adequate resources, it often places these women in tough positions. 

In places of lower socioeconomic status, “[s]omething that’s been noticed across the board is that in those places they tend to use more natural approaches. So they may not even have the options of institutes where those women can get mental help, let alone getting their kids mental health help that they’re needing,” Aasmundstad says. 

How one’s culture views women or medications ultimately holds some sway in medical practices. For example, in the United States, having an epidural for labor is a common occurrence, sometimes even the first choice. But that cannot account for all other countries.

Diverse women talking about healthcare service at clinic
Photo via Envato Elements

In a Washington Post article by Jennifer van der Kwast, a U.S. expat in the Netherlands, she writes: “Once you remove yourself from the machines, the gurneys, the doctors with face masks, you can demystify the experience.”

Many doctors have begun focusing on respectful maternity practices for their patients. If a woman wants an epidural, to crouch rather than lay down to give birth, or needs more emotional care, doctors are trying to be better at providing those options.

Once you remove yourself from the machines, the gurneys, the doctors with face masks, you can demystify the experience.

Elham Shakibazadeh’s study on global childbirth care found that “culture expectations seem to influence the actual perception of pain. An example of this is that in parts of India, women in labor report less pain than women in labor in the United States. A key factor is that the two different cultures approach pain very differently.”

FUTURE HOPES

Cultural differences and the socioeconomic gap in countries has led to a wide array of health care options for women. Especially after the COVID-19 epidemic, countries worldwide have been striving to better equip all practices of medicinal care. But women’s health care can still evolve.

Women's health and women's healthcare concept with uterus
Photo via Envato Elements
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