Social and cultural dimensions of pregnancy and childbirth in eastern Turkey


CULTURE HEALTH & SEXUALITY, vol.10, no.3, pp.277-285, 2008 (SSCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 10 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/13691050701673925
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.277-285
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


This study offers an in-depth analysis of women's perceptions and beliefs about pregnancy and delivery in a rural area of eastern Turkey. The goal was to identify possible threats to reproductive health among women in rural, conservative communities. Field research was conducted in the Bahesaray district in the province of Van in Eastern Anatolia, Turkey. Thirty-two married women with children participated in in-depth interviews. Results indicate that childbirth is regarded as a natural duty of women. Women generally have little knowledge about their own bodies and reproductive health and have few avenues for obtaining information about health services. In several cases, women reported having been married as children. Because of their ignorance about sexuality and reproductive health issues, feelings of helplessness and anxiety were high. Women felt hemmed in by the pressure of normative agents such as their husbands, their mothers-in-law and older members of the family, and they felt obliged to show respect to these authority figures. Findings demonstrate how in this context patriarchy directly controls women's lives and health in physiological terms.