Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



This ethnographic study aims to illuminate the experiences of pregnant and new mothers in poor areas of Colombia with respect to pregnancy and childbirth. Ethnographic observations including key informant qualitative interviews were performed by the primary investigator in four different neighborhoods in and around the city of Barranquilla, Colombia, over the course of 3 months. A total of 24 women were interviewed, and additional interviews were held with Colombian medical students, religious workers and not-for-profit healthcare leaders. I seek to better understand the perspectives of these internally displaced women in terms of contraception use including the sense of necessity of planning pregnancy as well as the mechanism of action related to each type of contraception. I explore the trajectory of complications experienced by the women, including the first signs of pregnancy and the way they managed the healthcare system to resolve the issues they had with pregnancy. Health education and body awareness were also discussed with relation to what women considered to be “normal” pregnancy experiences. Finally, the violence faced by many of the younger women was examined. Data was analyzed focusing on the personal experience of the women as they shared their health risk perceptions in relation to pregnancy and childbirth. I examined the maternal perceptions of healthcare as well as the structural constraints on prenatal healthcare-seeking behaviors. My point of view as a medical student from the United States became an important perspective in appreciating the pregnancy management strategies of women in Barranquilla.