Migrant Burmese women living in southern Thailand and motherhood: An ethnographic study Academic Article uri icon


  • Migrants to Thailand come from low-income border countries, such as Burma (Myanmar). Generally, migrant women experience difficulties obtaining high-quality health care due to socioeconomic barriers and conflicts with their practices. The aim of this study was to explore migrant Burmese women's experiences of becoming a mother while living in Thailand and their perceptions of motherhood, family support, and traditional postpartum practices. The study used an ethnographic design. In 2015, data were gathered through individual interviews with 10 migrant Burmese women before and after birth. Interview and field note data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Four themes emerged from the data: (i) the more children, the stronger the family; (ii) finding ways to promote baby's health and growth; (iii) sharing responsibility to fulfill parenting role; and (iv) peer and family support. Becoming a mother was important to the Burmese women interviewed; however, as migrants in Thailand, they had to juggle work and care for young children. Most decided that once their child was school age they would be sent to Burma to live with relatives. They engaged in a range of traditional practices to support their infant's health and well-being and protect their baby from evil spirits. Support from family, and the ability to participate in postpartum practices, were important for Burmese migrant women becoming mothers in Thailand.

publication date

  • 2019