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Cross-culturally, birthing practices can be better understood by examining the central belief system of a given culture. Through a discussion of the ideology, symbol, and value inherent within the central belief system of the Canadian society, that of science and technology, as well as by examining the historical development of obstetrics, it is possible to explain how a system of maternity care which over-emphasizes technology and de-emphasizes the woman's role in birthing has gained dominance in this country.
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Lois James-Chetelat, Ph.D.
Lois James-Chetelat is presently a consultant in health and development. She is a medical anthropologist and sociologist and has had experience in cross-cultural health care and developing world nursing. She can be contacted at 77 Canter Blvd., Nepean, Ont., Canada K2G 2M4.