Women in the rural Cajamarca area of Cuzco, Peru, have many traditional beliefs concerning pregnancy and birth. Some of these beliefs case real problems for health workers who are trying to improve health care in the area. For example:

The women believe that there is some communicating channel between the uterus and the mouth, so to prevent the placenta coming out of the mouth, they tie a belt very tightly round the mother’s waist immediately after the baby is born. They also cut the cord with a tile or a piece of pottery. They wont use scissors or a knife because one belief says, if they use these, the child will become a thief.

After giving birth, they stay in bed for 15 days because their body is “open”. They mustn’t stand up, or eat salt, onions, avocados or guinea pigs. If they do, the uterus will become infected.

Can any of your readers help with ways of getting around these problems without upsetting the traditional beliefs?