Decolonizing motherhood: exampining birthing experiences of urban indigenous women in Nova Scotia
LE3 .A278 2019
Master of Arts
While much as been written about how colonization has been accomplished through the disruption of motherhood, less is known about how Indigenous women’s birthing experiences have been shaped by continual colonization, or how birthing is, or can be part of the decolonizing movement. This thesis, while focusing broadly on the relationship between motherhood, health, and the effects of colonization, explores urban Indigenous women’s birthing experiences in Nova Scotia. This inquiry was framed by the Indigenous theoretical concept of Two-Eyed Seeing that is used to examine pressing health and social problems experienced by Indigenous people, as well as postcolonial and Indigenous feminist theory. Employing an Indigenous informed methodology, a talking circle with ten self-identified urban Indigenous mothers was held in a community gathering space in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In addition, seven qualitative interviews were conducted with mothers that attended the talking circle in order to determine their perceptions and experiences of birth in hospital settings. The results show that mothers experienced individual and institutional discrimination, and that Indigenous birthing practices were desired, yet unrealized due to structural barriers. This thesis argues that the current healthcare system in Nova Scotia fails to meet the needs of urban Indigenous mothers during the birthing experience because it fails to embrace culturally informed birthing knowledges. The incorporation of Indigenous birth knowledges into practice can address these shortcomings, redefine how we come to understand birth, and better support women of all cultural backgrounds in hospital. This thesis also argues that Indigenous informed midwifery care is the pathway best suited for decolonizing birth.
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