Birth Ambassadors going to press!

We are delighted to inform you that our book is on the path to publication.  We will keep you posted as to availability.  In the meantime, share the news with your friends!  

From the Introduction

When the word “doula” comes up in a conversation about childbirth, there are two typical responses: “What’s that, like a midwife?” or “Oh! I had a doula!” The first response reveals how little is known in many quarters about the resurgence of a longstanding tradition—women supporting other birthing women—now taking place within modern birth settings. The latter exclamation is often a grateful acknowledgement of the support she received from her doula in the form of information, physical comfort, and emotional reassurance during labor and birth. 

In this book, we show how doulas have entered the debates around birth in the United States. Doulas, or, as we call them, “birth ambassadors,” translate and cross the borders between media portrayals, mainstream medical practices, and the midwifery model of birth, articulating a message that is often drowned out by those with greater access to larger marketing budgets. As birth ambassadors, doulas offer to personally accompany women and their families through a strange, yet familiar landscape: the world of hospital-based childbirth. 

This book tells the story of how doulas emerged in maternity care in the United States, explores the science behind claims of the effectiveness of continuous labor support, and offers an examination of the contradictions and accomplishments doulas experience as they do their work. It combines the results of a sociological research study on the history and experiences of doulas in the United States by Christine Morton,[1] with personal narratives from women who have worked as doulas, or had a doula at their births, collected and edited by Elayne Clift. The juxtaposition of the narratives with the chapters featuring Morton’s analysis of the history and nature of doula practice provide a fuller picture of what motivates doulas, the nature of their work, and the challenges and dilemmas that doulas and their organizations face in their quest to become ambassadors to the world of birth for pregnant women and their families.

[1] The methodology for the research study is described in the Appendix.

Published by Christine Morton

Christine H. Morton, PhD is a medical sociologist whose research has focused on women’s reproductive experiences and maternity care roles. Since 2008, she has been at Stanford University’s California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, where she conducts research on maternal mortality and morbidity.

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