See my response to a post about fetal demise yesterday.
Cultural conflict, ideally, should be rare; it may or may not be. OB is the place where you are most likely to encounter LOTS of people from different backgrounds because all cultures give birth, so it is really important to be culturally aware and open-minded.
You cannot possibly learn all the ins and outs of various cultures; in addition, persons who belong to those various groups are individuals, with all different kinds of hopes, fears, previous HC encounters, etc. In my practice, I had patients from Somalia, Albania, Mongolia, Puerto Rico, Nigeria, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, India, China, Indonesia, Laos (Hmong & Laotian, which are different) Burma, and, of course, Mexico. I also had lots of African-American patients. I did well with nearly all of them. Amazingly, one of my non-English speaking patients named her baby after me (middle name)!
Along the way, I learned that what matters is realizing that you hold a certain point-of-view that has been shaped by your family, and by the time, place, and circumstances of where you grew up. You use this to make sense of and explain the world. The eye-opener is when your ealize that YOUR culture's way of doing things is not the only way, and may not be the best way to do things for everyone. And, that other cultures may do things in a way that works BETTER. For example, I had to get used to a few things abolut my Hmong patients. The first was that a key player was the mother-in-law, whose beliefs could trump whatever I said. I aslo figured out (eventually) that Hmong people really value concensus, and will do everything they can to avoid conflict. So, they would seem to go along with my ideas, but then would do what they thought was best. They would never, ever flat out disagree with me; they simply ignored my ideas. I learned that I should do my best to explain why I wanted them to take iron, then negotiate and win agreement in how we would approach their anemia.
So, how might a culture that values agreement and highly respects family and their elders be an advantage? Less conflict, plus LOTS of social support, plus more hands to help raise a child = less PP depression, less child abuse, more cohesive families, better earnings for the family as a whole. In addition, the Hmong version of Social Security is a large, close-knit family with a least several sons, who are obligated to take care of you in your old age. Contrast that to our lonely, depressed, isolated elders who seldom see or hear form their busy children and grandchildren.
One of the hardest thing to adapt to was teen pregnancies. I then realized that many of them truly wanted the baby. That baby represented hope to many with a limited future, and a chance to be a better parent that what they had experienced. It also gave them someone to love, and who they hoped would love them back. Coming to grips with this does NOT mean I endorse it, but if that baby is already on the way, what good would it do for me to be judgmental? Why not make the best of it, and to be able to reach that Mom and (possibly) influence her, she needs to see you as on her side, and as someone who values and cares about her.
By the way, I eventually realized that many of thiose teens lived in a matriarchal culture, and that a whole network of strong, savvy female relatives would help them out. and, many or them did eventually go back to school, or got a GED. They went on to be hairdressers, office clerks, bank tellers, meter midas, etc. Their lives (from their point of view) turned out OK, and they contribute to society. While you & I might think that not getting pregnant and going to college is the best plan, who are we to say it is right for everyone?
I learned how to relate to all kinds of people by 1) being open-minded, 2) realizing that my way was not the only way, 3) being respectful, and 3) being consistently kind. Somehow, the idea that we are all God's children is formly planted in my head. If you remember that, you will be fine. If your not sure what to do, ask them what is important to them; they will let you know.