Changing Birth Practices in India: Oils, Oxytocin, and Obstetrics

Chattopadhyay, Sreeparna and Jacob, Suraj (2022) Changing Birth Practices in India: Oils, Oxytocin, and Obstetrics. South Asia Research, 42 (3). pp. 1-17. ISSN 02627280

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Institutional births increased in India from 39% to 79% between 2005 and 2015. Drawing from 17 months of fieldwork, this article traces the shift from home to hospital births across three generations in a hamlet in Assam in Northeast India. Here, too, one finds that most births have shifted from home to hospital in less than a decade, aided by multiple factors. These include ‘free’ birthing facilities and financial incentives offered by government schemes, idiosyncratic changes within the hamlet, such as the introduction of biomedical practices through home births where oxytocin was used, and changes in cultural belief systems among local people. The exploration reveals significant transitions between (and fluidities of) categories such as local/global, tradition/modernity, past/present and nature/technology, creating a complex and ambivalent narrative of change, in which the voices of mothers should not be ignored.

Item Type: Article
Authors: Chattopadhyay, Sreeparna and Jacob, Suraj
Document Language:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Assam, birth practices, maternal health, social change, state
Subjects: Social sciences
Technology > Medicine & health > Promotion of health
Divisions: Azim Premji University > School of Development
Full Text Status: Public
Publisher URL:

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