Japanese American Midwives
Culture, Community, and Health Politics, 1880-1950
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Series: The Asian American Experience
Table of Contents
This book is dedicated to Donald Macnab and Susan Hamilton, who made it possible, in their own special ways, for me to complete it. They not only offered wonderful suggestions for how to improve this work, they also provided solid moral support. ...
Introduction: Japanese American Women, Racial Politics, and the Meanings of Midwifery
Japanese American midwives were women who established their expertise as childbirth attendants in Japan but spent most of their working lives in the United States. Midwives, almost all of whom were women, and doctors, most of whom were men, were the predominant formal health-care providers among Japanese immigrants. ...
1. Creation of the Sanba in Meiji Japan
At the beginning of the twentieth century, many women in Japan gave birth without assistance, although a few women had access to the aid of traditional midwives. Gradually Japanese cultural practices changed and more women turned to the services of the modern midwife, or sanba, especially for difficult births. ...
2. Race Relations, Midwife Regulations, and the Sanba in the American West
Hundreds of Japanese midwives, or sanba, immigrated to the United States in the early twentieth century at a time when the nation grappled with concerns about both the “Japanese problem” and the “midwife problem.” As immigrants from Japan, the sanba were proud subjects of the emperor, leader of a rising imperial power. ...
3. Seattle Sanba and the Creation of Issei Community
At 10:00 a.m. on a rainy January day in 1927, Toku Shimomura drove the family Ford to the house of Mrs. Okiyama, who safely gave birth to a baby boy five hours later.1 It was a typical, uneventful birth for Toku, a sanba who delivered about twenty babies that year in her hometown of Seattle, Washington. ...
4. Midwife Supervision in Hawai’i
In 1937 the Territorial Board of Health in Hawai’i selected public health nurse Alice Young to become its first supervisor of midwives. Alice, a Chinese American born in Honolulu, was in charge of the licensed midwives, most of whom were Japanese immigrants. ...
5. Militarization, Midwifery, and World War II
On 7 December 1941, midwife Misao Tanji was not at home. Misao had left the night before to deliver a baby at a plantation near Pearl Harbor, not far from Honolulu. “In the morning when I prepared to leave,” she recalled, “I heard machine guns. I thought the military was practicing.” ...
Throughout the early twentieth century, Japanese American midwives responded to the health-care needs of their communities. They played a vital role as health-care providers for Issei women, a few Nisei women, and sometimes women of other ethnic backgrounds. ...