About Christine Morton, PhD

My sociological interests center around reproductive practices, experience and ideology.  I trained at UCLA with a particular emphasis in feminist theory and research as well as ethnographic, historical and statistical research methods

Throughout my career, I have focused on emerging technologies and roles in maternity care, and women’s experiences with childbirth. My dissertation, Doula Care: The (Re)-Emergence of Woman-Supported Childbirth in the United States, was the first social science investigation of this role and its practitioners. My ethnographic observations and interviews with doulas and founding organizational members revealed core contradictions in the doula role as it has emerged to mediate the increased use of pharmaceuticals, technology and surgery in U.S. obstetrics.

I am currently collaborating with Elayne Clift on a book project, combining my analysis of the doula role with selected narratives from doulas and women who had doulas at their births.  This project, Birth Ambassadors: Doulas and the Re-emergence of Woman-Supported Childbirth in the United States, will be published later this year.

In addition, I collaborated with medical anthropologist Clarissa Hsu, PhD, on an ethnographic study of childbirth education, funded by Lamaze International, from 2004-07.  See Contemporary Dilemmas in American Childbirth Education: Findings From a Comparative Ethnographic Study in the Fall 2007 issue of the Journal of Perinatal Education 16(4), 25–37, doi: 10.1624/105812407X245614.

Contact me:  christine (at) christinemorton (dot) com for additional information about my work.

2 thoughts on “About Christine Morton, PhD

  1. To me, a doula or birth partner is many things: Passionate- about mothers, birth, babies, fathers, informed choice and decision making; Compassionate- caring for and looking after the mother, father, other birth partner, baby but most of all the mother; Knowledgable- in all parts of the childbearing process and able to share that information in an easy to understand way; A great communicator- with the mother, as an advocate, with the father or other birth partner; Attentive to detail- to me the difference between a good doula and a really great one is whether they remember the small things. In the background not needing or wanting the limelight- it is never the doula’s birth, it is the birth of the new family unit that comes from it. A doula just helps to support and facilitates that in as unobtrusive a way as possible; Trustworthy- having integrity Like a friend whilst being a professional (in the case of the professional’ doula)- they can talk to you, be honest with you, laugh with you, cry with you whilst knowing that that can’t offend you, or that you are not going to storm off in a fit of ego and that you are there for them whateverAs well as being organised, a good time keeper, having a good memory and a whole bunch of other tignhs, the most important thing in my opinion is A desire to support the mother 100% in their choices (inside the law) without judging or pushing an agenda; to reach the destination regardless of the journey, helping them to get a positive birth experience. It is their birth, and we are privileged to be a part of it.

  2. Hi Dr. Morton, I have recently been alerted to your work and I am looking forward to your upcoming book Birth Ambassadors: Doulas and the Re-emergence of Woman-supported Childbirth in the United States. When will it be out? I am working on my dissertation – the topic centered on hospital-based doula programs. I feel like I should read your dissertation and will start the search to see if I can find it and/or your published word. Thanks for all the great work you are doing.

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