Your culture and your pregnancy: 5 tips for advocating for your ideal experience


In this article:

  • You have the right to have a childbirth experience that reflects your cultural traditions and beliefs.

  • Find a doctor or midwife who will respect your cultural traditions and build a support system that will help advocate for your wants and needs.

  • Create a birth plan that outlines your cultural needs and communicates your preferences to your care team.

5 tips for advocating for your ideal pregnancy, labor and delivery experience

A person’s cultural beliefs and practices play an important role in shaping their ideal pregnancy experience. Traditions can offer comfort, strength and a deep sense of belonging. This is why it’s so important to know how to advocate for a birthing experience that honors your cultural identity. Here are five tips for identifying and communicating your cultural preferences during your pregnancy, labor and delivery:

1. Embrace your cultural identity

Your cultural background is an important part of who you are and should be a part of your pregnancy and childbirth experience, too. Before you begin advocating for your needs, take some time to reflect on the parts of your culture that you want to incorporate into your pregnancy and birthing journey. Whether it's specific rituals, practices, dietary preferences or birthing positions, recognizing what’s important to you is the first step in communicating your needs.

2. Find a culturally sensitive doctor or midwife

Seek out medical professionals who respect your cultural background and who will recognize your cultural practices as part of your care plan. Don’t hesitate to interview potential doctors until you find the right fit. Start by asking them about their experiences and attitudes toward integrating cultural practices into their care.

3. Build a support system that honors your culture

Surrounding yourself with a support system – your partner, family members, friends and/or a doula – that understands and respects your cultural background can provide you with comfort during pregnancy and childbirth. Your support system can also help advocate for your cultural preferences. This may be especially important during delivery, when it may be more difficult for you to communicate your needs.

4. Educate your health care team about your cultural needs

While you should not have to educate health care professionals on your culture, sometimes taking the time to explain certain practices or needs can help them personalize your care.  If there are specific cultural practices or considerations that are important to you, discuss these with your care team. Providing resources or literature about these practices can also help bridge any knowledge gaps and ensure your team is prepared to support you in the way you need.

5. Create a culturally informed birth plan

A birth plan is a useful tool for outlining your preferences for labor and delivery. When making your plan, include specific cultural rituals or practices you wish to observe and be clear about any cultural considerations that your health care team should be aware of, such as dietary restrictions or postpartum care traditions. Share this plan with your doctor early to ensure everyone is prepared to honor your wishes.

By empowering yourself with knowledge, building a support system that understands your needs and communicating your preferences to your health care team, you can advocate for a birth experience that respects your individuality and cultural background. Remember, you have the right to a birthing experience that is safe, respectful and aligned with your values. Your voice matters — make it heard.

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Related resources

Preparing for babies arrival with a comprehensive birth plan

Providence midwives offer more than pregnancy support

Pregnancy: Everything you need to know for your journey

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.

About the Author

The Providence Women's Health team is committed to providing useful and actionable insights, tips and advice to ensure women of all types can live their healthiest lives.

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