Female immigration due to cross-border marriage has gradually become more common in Taiwanese society. However, there is still insufficient literature about differences in infant caretaking, prepartum/postpartum health care, and health outcome between the immigrant and native Taiwanese populations. According to the Ministry of the Interior in Taiwan, up to the end of 2010 more than 386,000 families in Taiwan included a foreign or mainland Chinese spouse. Emigrants from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau accounted for 65% of these families, with the remaining 35% involving spouses from other areas of the world
. Concerns have been raised about the impact of differences in lifestyle and culture on health during maternity and infant care
. Many studies have indicated that most immigrant women come from underdeveloped countries with backward economic conditions, so they are disadvantaged by race, social class and gender. These disadvantages can have negative effects on their lives, children’s adaptation to school, and medical care utilization
According to a previous report, cultural differences become evident in cross-border marriages and relocations, causing disturbances in eating habits, interpersonal relationships and daily routines. Language barriers worsen social interactions, which include being unable to go out independently, to take public transportation, or to go shopping. They also cause difficulties in communicating with parents-in-law, which may give rise to further self-imposed isolation
. Immigrants who are affected may develop emotional symptoms of stress, anxiety, anger and regret if the situation persists
[7, 8]. Many physical disorders and illnesses can be attributed to the conditions described above and to social maladaptation. Symptoms of psychological disorders include headache, lost appetite, weight loss, and insomnia
. In addition, language barriers prevent effective communication with medical staff limit the immigrants’ use of healthcare services, and family members or friends become the major sources of information
Some studies have demonstrated that new immigrant women with insufficient awareness and skills about breastfeeding have a low success rate in breastfeeding and a lack of knowledge of infant care related to safe bathing and vaccination. Lower rates of use of healthcare services such as antenatal examinations and cervical Pap smear tests have also been reported
[3, 11]. According to some studies on the promotion of infant growth
[12, 13], behavior can be positively affected by infant stimulation via body massage and by environmental change. Infant massage can also enhance the experience of parenthood, attachment, and positive interactions between parents and their infants.
Cultural adaptation and the demand for health care have been emphasized in immigrant-related studies
[6, 14]. However, comparative studies between immigrant and Taiwanese women concerning infant care, health outcome and stimulation of developmental growth are still lacking. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare immigrants and Taiwanese women with regard to antenatal healthcare use, maternal body weight and infant growth curves during the first six months postpartum.