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Patient Citizens, Immigrant Mothers

Mexican Women, Public Prenatal Care, and the Birth Weight Paradox

Alyshia Galvez

Publication Year: 2011

According to the Latina health paradox, Mexican immigrant women have less complicated pregnancies and more favorable birth outcomes than many other groups, in spite of socioeconomic disadvantage. Alyshia Gálvez provides an ethnographic examination of this paradox. What are the ways that Mexican immigrant women care for themselves during their pregnancies? How do they decide to leave behind some of the practices they bring with them on their pathways of migration in favor of biomedical approaches to pregnancy and childbirth?

This book takes us from inside the halls of a busy metropolitan hospital’s public prenatal clinic to the Oaxaca and Puebla states in Mexico to look at the ways Mexican women manage their pregnancies. The mystery of the paradox lies perhaps not in the recipes Mexican-born women have for good perinatal health, but in the prenatal encounter in the United States. Patient Citizens, Immigrant Mothers is a migration story and a look at the ways that immigrants are received by our medical institutions and by our society

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

This book has benefited by the generous input and support of a number of colleagues and institutions. Of course, the errors that inevitably remain in the text are mine alone. I had the opportunity to present grant proposals, the research plan, and drafts of the manuscript in various settings. ...

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Chapter 1: Paradoxes and Patients: Immigrants and Prenatal Care

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pp. 1-20

When Marisol (a pseudonym) was pregnant with her first child in her hometown, a rural hamlet outside the state capital of Puebla, Mexico, she suffered frequently from morning sickness. Her mother-in-law, with whom she and her husband lived, knew a solution. ...

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Chapter 2: Immigrant Aspirations and the Decisions Families Make

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pp. 21-48

Claudia did not wish to migrate from her home in Castillotla, Puebla. Nevertheless, her partner, who had been in the United States before, thought they should, and, with a baby on the way, she said, “Uno piensa en los dos, no sólo en uno” [You think about the two of you, not just yourself]. ...

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Chapter 3: Remembering Reproductive Care in Rural Mexico

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pp. 49-80

Luisa was busy. Even while she chatted amiably, she diligently worked, writing onto the sketch of her family tree the names, birth dates, and birth weights of all of the many grandchildren given her by her seven children. Over several weeks, I had conducted participant observation with a women’s group at the Queens community center of a large immigrant-rights organization. ...

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Chapter 4: Becoming Patients: Birth Experiences in New York City

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pp. 81-120

If María Pacheco had given birth to her daughter in her childhood home in a small rural municipality outside of Tehuacán, Puebla, her mother told me she would have been treated to forty days of reposo, rest, during the cuarentena. During that time of recuperation, her mother, sister, sisters-in-law, and motherin- law would have bathed her in hot herbal steam baths, ...

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Chapter 5: Critical Perspectives on Prenatal Care

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pp. 121-146

Rosa migrated from Puebla’s state capital three years prior to becoming pregnant and seeking prenatal care at Manhattan Hospital. I asked her whether she planned to have anesthesia during labor and delivery. While her husband massaged her back, she told me she did not. ...

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Chapter 6: Prenatal Care and the Reception of Immigrants: Reflections and Suggestions for Change

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pp. 147-165

Increasingly, long-term settlement by undocumented immigrants is reluctant: an artifact of the increasing militarization of the border and the closure of access to visa categories that in the past made circulation to and from communities of origin and migrant destinations feasible. ...

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pp. 166-170

As I complete this book, the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is under attack. Legislators and activists at the state and federal levels are organizing to strategize ways to legislatively mandate a reinterpretation or revision of its guarantees of birth-right citizenship. ...


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pp. 171-180


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pp. 181-196


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pp. 197-211

E-ISBN-13: 9780813552019
E-ISBN-10: 081355201X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813551418

Page Count: 230
Illustrations: 5 photographs
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 775872940
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Patient Citizens, Immigrant Mothers

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Women -- Mexico -- Social conditions.
  • Women immigrants -- United States -- Social conditions.
  • Prenatal care -- United States.
  • Childbirth -- United States -- Cross-cultural studies.
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