Health may be compromised by social interactions depending on culture among postpartum Arab and Jewish Israeli women

Sadie Puddister, Ola Ali-Saleh, Michal Cohen-Dar, Orna Baron-Epel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Social support is generally perceived to facilitate health in postpartum women; however, previous research shows that this is not always true. Social interactions intended to provide support can be perceived as negative and in turn, may have negative impacts on maternal health. The purpose of the present study was to asses if social support and negative interactions at one month after childbirth can predict maternal health four months after childbirth, and if this relationship is influenced by culture. Methods: This prospective longitudinal cohort study included randomly selected Arab (n = 203) and Jewish (n = 202) women who attended Mother and Child Health Clinics in Northern Israel one month after giving birth. The women were interviewed at one and four months after childbirth using a questionnaire including measures of health (self-reported health (SRH) and health problems), socioeconomic and demographic status, obstetric characteristics, social support, negative social interactions and perceptions of customs and traditions intended to help the mother cope after childbirth. Multivariable regressions were run to identify the variables predicting health four months after childbirth. Results: The response rate for both interviews was 90%. Negative social interactions one month after childbirth significantly predicted health problems in Arab and Jewish women (Beta 0.20 and 0.37 respectively) and SRH among Arab women only (odds ratio (OR) 0.32, confidence interval (CI) 0.19-0.54) four months after childbirth. Social support at one month after childbirth significantly predicted better SRH in both Jewish and Arab women four months after childbirth (OR 2.33, CI 1.38-3.93 and 1.59, CI 1.01-2.46 respectively) and fewer health problems only among Jewish women (Beta-0.37). Conclusions: Social support and negative social interactions appear to be predictive of health in postpartum women. Associations varied between Arabs and Jews, indicating that social support may be more important for predicting health among Jewish women and negative interactions may be more important among Arab women. Healthcare practitioners should be aware of the cultural context and social circumstances of postpartum women to ensure they receive the social support and care they need.

Original languageEnglish
Article number480
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
StatePublished - 21 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s).


  • Culture
  • Customs
  • Maternal health
  • Postpartum period
  • Social interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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