The Meanings and Experiences of Cesarean Birth Among Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese Immigrant Women in Australia Academic Article uri icon


  • We examined the experience of cesarean birth among 67 Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese women who are now living in Melbourne, Australia, based on a larger ethnographic research project on childbearing, childrearing and motherhood among Southeast Asian women in Australia. We found a range of responses in the discourses of the women: some women preferred cesarean birth, but others resisted it. Women's social construction of their feelings stemmed from three interpretive frameworks: trust in medical knowledge, expectations (personal ideology of reproduction and motherhood) and communication with an understanding of their caregivers' preferences (as opposed to choice). Our findings have ramifications for health care providers working in multicultural settings. An effective dialogue between women and their health caregivers is required to keep the cesarean section rates down. In the case of immigrant women in a multicultural society like Australia, it is not the passive receipt of information but a two-way communication with adequate interpreter support that will lead to informed choice, fewer cesarean births, more satisfaction and less regret.

publication date

  • September 14, 2006