Changing birth practices in India: Oils, oxytocin and obstetrics
Sreeparna Chattopadhyay and Suraj Jacob explore changes around birthing practices over several decades through narratives of older and younger mothers in a rural hamlet in Assam.
In recent decades, concerted efforts by state and non-state actors to improve maternal health outcomes in India have resulted in incentivising and improving access to institutional deliveries, ante-natal care and immunisations.
The National Family and Health Survey (NFHS‑4) of 2015 found that institutional births in India doubled from 39% to 79% between 2005 and 2015. In this context, the researchers explore changes around birthing practices over several decades through narratives of older and younger mothers in a rural hamlet in Assam in Northeast India.
They also map the trajectory of changing sites for birthing, situating this within an altered political economy where the state is increasingly visible in reproductive governance that goes beyond family planning to reduction of maternal and child mortality, in consonance with global discourses and indicators.
About the Researchers
Sreeparna Chattopadhyay is an Associate Professor in Sociology at the Department of Social Sciences of FLAME University in Pune, India. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from Brown University and her research has focused on the ways in which gender disadvantages interact with socio-economic inequities, shaping women’s life trajectories, including impacts on health, education and exposure to violence.
She may be contacted at email@example.com
Suraj Jacob is a visiting faculty member at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru. He holds a PhD in Economics from Stanford University and his research interests connect development and governance. He previously served as chief executive of Vidya Bhawan, an education NGO in Rajasthan.
He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chattopadhyay, S., & Jacob, S. (2022). Changing Birth Practices in India: Oils, Oxytocin and Obstetrics. South Asia Research, 42(3), 364 – 380. https://doi.org/10.1177/02627280221105126