VIEWS ON PREGNANCY: PRENATAL THROUGH POST PARTUM
Please do not use the information provided for self-treatment of any kind. If you are pregnant please
seek medical attention from a Health Care Professional
The Catholic religion and a deep respect for the advice and guidance of
elders are two influences which are deeply rooted in Hispanic
life. The belief that all aspects of life can be
represented as either "hot" or "cold" strongly influences the Hispanic
culture as well (Paulank, 2005). This web page will
the views and experiences of four Hispanic woman with regards to their
practices, beliefs, and traditions related to the entire child-bearing
timeline--from prenatal care to labor and delivery to the post partum
care of newborn and mother. We would also like to state that the
information presented on this page is in no way descriptive of the
beliefs of the culture as a whole but only of those women who were
interviewed for this project. We hope that the page may be
helpful in better understanding some practices of the Hispanic culture
and that it may lead to the practice of
more culturally sensitive nursing. We must understand the
culture in order to provide the best nursing care.
- Some Hispanic
avoid foods that are considered to be "hot" by their culture because it
is believed to cause the child to be born with spots and to be more
susceptible to rashes: i.e. chilies and coffee.
- Foods such as
fish, oysters, and other shellfish are sometimes removed from the diet
and the number of eggs reduced to avoid giving birth to a child with
bad body odors.
- Women are
eat foods which are high in iron such as beans. Women also try to
avoid eating grease during their pregnancy and will eat sesame soup
and use plenty of cream as both are believed to aid in the production
of better breast milk.
- Women are
encouraged to stay active (especially by walking) as this is said to
help develop a healthier baby with a better temperament.
- To avoid problems
the umbilical cord women are encouraged to not wear anything around the
neck, no clothing that contains elastic, and to not reach upward for things such
as clothing on a clothesline.
- As the culture is
respectful of its elders, women will often look to mothers, aunts, and
grandmothers for advice on all topics both during pregnancy and
- Some traditional
hispanic beliefs say that if the woman's face stays nice and smooth,
she doesn't gain much weight, and her stomach becomes pointed then she
will have a boy. Likewise, if the mother is more tired and gains
more weight she is said to be having a girl. The girl is
thought to be "draining" the beauty from the mother.
- Another tradition
may be seen in the Hispanic culture is the use of medallions, a red
ball, or a rosary that is secured with
a large safety pin to the clothing to prevent malformations in the
- Intercourse may be
during pregnancy as it is believed to be harmful to the baby. It
can begin again one to three months after the birth.
- Some Hispanic woman may
believe that they should not take any pain medications as the
medication may not be good for the baby.
- If the baby were found
in a poor position for birth, it is the belief of some
that crawling on the hands and knees can help to bring the baby back in
to the correct position for birthing.
- Older generations of
woman (especially in rural areas) frequently have their children at
home with only a midwife present; however, hospital birthing is
considered to be more safe.
- Screaming during the
labor and delivery is considered to be harmful to the baby.
- Some traditional pain
management techniques include controlled breathing, walking, counting
forward and backward, or reciting letters of the alphabet.
- The Hispanic family may
to take the umbilical cord, placenta, or both home with them after the
birth. The placenta may be planted below a fruiting tree as it is
believed the child will grow and bear fruit as the tree grows.
- Another tradition that
be seen during labor is that the mother may want to have bright
clothing as it is said to bring a baby with a better attitude and
intelligence. Make-up is also not worn during the labor and
- Some Hispanic traditions
believe in the "Quarentena",
which is a length of time (usually around 40 days after the birth)
during which the mother and child are to remain in the home with
limited visitors so that they can properly bond and are not exposed to
infections from outside. This time is also supposed to be helpful
in bringing the uterus back into shape and for flattening the
stomach. During this time, some mothers may only take sponge
- Many Hispanic traditions
believe that the fresh air is healthiest for the baby and that perfumes
and scented cleaning agents should not be used in the home with the
- Various Hispanic
believe the baby must be kept warmly wrapped and wear socks at all
times to keep from becoming chilled and to simulate the prenatal
- Cloth diapers might
also be favored as
the plastic on disposable diapers is believed to be bad for the baby's
several months of breastfeeding, some mothers believe that the
nutritional value of their breast milk declines and that drinking a
small amount of beer daily can help produce "levadura"--a stronger more
- As the baby grows,
women may give the baby certain herbal teas (made with fresh herbs not
from tea bags) to help calm a baby who may have colic. The mother
may also rub a food item into the back of the knees as it is believed
to help develop strong bones.
- Hispanic culture
is traditionally very modest. Male nurses may not be well
accepted and mothers may be hesitant to accept any perineal
- Translators can be very helpful in making the mother
feel more comfortable and informed during the birthing process.
- As the culture considers pregnancy to be a "hot" stage
life, sitz baths may not be well accepted. Ice packs may be
better accepted by Hispanic mothers.
- RNs and doctors are very respected in the Hispanic
and are expected to be competent and knowledgeable on all topics. Their advice and
directions will almost always be followed strictly (Paulank, 2005).
SPANISH WORDS, ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS, & PRONUNCIATIONS:
Dolor (doe lore) =
Hola (oh la) = Hello
Si (sea) =
No = No
Bien (be en) = Good or
Mal = Poor or bad
Donde (doan day) =
Bebe (bay bay) = Baby
Paulank, J.B., Purnell, L.D.
(2005). Guide to Culturally Competent Health
Care: Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.