Roles of Social Network in Japanese Women's Prenatal Healthcare Utilization Patterns in the US - Implications to Migrants' Maternal Wellbeing

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Yuki SEIDLER, University of Vienna, Austria
Positive effects of social networks on human well-being are well known. Little is known, however, on their roles and influences on migrants’ maternal wellbeing. This study investigates into the types of social relationships maintained and established by Japanese migrant women who gave birth in the US. It asks the following questions: What kinds of social relationships and networks do they develop and maintain in the host society? How do different types of network influence the mothers’ prenatal healthcare utilization patterns? How does acculturation and socio-economic factor play a role? What are the implications to migrant maternal wellbeing? Wellbeing in this study is understood from a saltogenetic perspective of sense of control and cohesions throughout the pregnancy, birth and postnatal period.

The study is based on in-depth interviews with 21 Japanese women who lived in Central New Jersey in 2014/15 and who have experienced childbirth in the US. It is partially ethnographic. The researcher took active parts in activities organized by the local Japanese community association during the 8 months research period and conducted two workshops aimed at promoting Japanese women’s wellbeing in the US. Field memos and workshop records from these activities are included in the analysis. Ethical approval was obtained from the Institutional Review Board of Princeton University.

Different types of networks influenced the sources of information and thus the prenatal health service utilisation pattern. Very few intra-nationally married Japanese women knew the option of midwife-led model of care in the US. Those who have chosen midwife-led care were more acculturated, married to American nationals and expressed higher sense of control and cohesions than intra-nationally married Japanese women who predominantly had obstetrician-led care. “Not being fussy” was regarded as a virtue among many women interviewed and prevented them from proactively seeking information outside their own network.