The paper aims to document the ways people understand, practice and experience pregnancy and childbirth in a community in Batangas, Philippines. Stories from mothers and hilots (traditional birth attendants) were gathered to have first-hand accounts of what is really happening in the community in relation to pregnancy and childbirth. Observations of the author were also included to give more vivid accounts of the practices. It was found that traditional practices related to pregnancy and birthing remain important to the community especially the presence of the hilots during the birthing process. The hilots give a feeling of security and comfort to the mothers because they look after the well-being of the mothers and their children during this whole period. The “no home birthing” policy that was implemented affected the social and economic status of the hilots in the community and by extension the life and well-being of the mothers in the community. Finally, based on data gathered , it can be said that the “no home birthing” policy was not successful in addressing the real issues in maternal healthcare. The issues may be addressed by providing more facilities that will cater to the needs of mothers and create a more inclusive healthcare system.

It is important that more people learn about the ways that certain local practices are understood from the perspective of the community so that the programs or policies that will be developed in relation to the practices, such as on pregnancy and childbirth, will take into account the people’s own understanding of their needs and not only imposed without any consideration of existing practices. The top-down approach in creating and implementing programs and policies usually do not work at the community level because they are not attuned to the actual needs and practices of the people and therefore not understood by the people in the community.

Read full paper: