Doulas and Intimate Labour Boundaries, Bodies and Birth


Price: $29.95

Page Count: 282

Publication Date: December 2015

ISBN: 978-1-926452-13-5

Scholars turn to reproduction for its ability to illuminate the practices involved with negotiating personhood for the unborn, the newborn, and the already-existing family members, community members, and the nation. The scholarship in this volume draws attention to doula work as intimate and relational while highlighting the way boundaries are created, maintained, challenged, and transformed. Intimate labour as a theoretical construct provides a way to think about the kind of care doulas offer women across the reproductive spectrum. Doulas negotiate boundaries and often blur the divisions between communities and across public and private spheres in their practice of intimate labour. This book weaves together three main threads: doulas and mothers, doulas and their community, and finally, doulas and institutions. The lived experience of doulas illustrates the interlacing relationships among all three of these threads. The essays in this collection offer a unique perspective on doulas by bringing together voices that represent the full spectrum of doula work, including the viewpoints of birth, postpartum, abortion, community based, adoption, prison, and radical doulas. We privilege this broad representation of doula experiences to emphasize the importance of a multi-vocal framing of the doula experience. As doulas move between worlds and learn to live in liminal spaces, they occupy space that allows them to generate new cultural narratives about birthing bodies.

“Doulas and Intimate Labour: Boundaries, Bodies and Birth is a comprehensive compendium of scholarly contributions from a diverse group of doulas, researchers and midwives. This book provides insight, clarification, direction, and considerations, for present and future growth of the doula model of care. This model of care has been, and will continue to be, a powerful conduit for changes in childbirth, and maternity support and care. Highly recommended for required reading in nursing courses, women’s studies, doula programs, and midwifery training. An outstanding contribution to the literature!”
—Susan K. Grabia, Faculty Associate, UoW, School of Nursing, Madison, WI


Robbie Davis-Floyd

Across the Reproductive Divide
Angela N. Castañeda and Julie Johnson Searcy


Experts in Birth:
How Doulas Improve Outcomes for Birthing Women
and Their Babies
Megan Davidson

Retrieving the Maps to Motherhood
Alison Bastien

A Doula for the Mother and the Self:
Exploring the Intersection of Birth and Body Culture
Sarah Lewin

“Screw You Guys! I’m Not a Bad Person”:
Disrupting the Damaged Birth Mother Model
with Doula Support
Susanna C. Snyder

“When You Go through Something Like That with Somebody”:
Turning Points in the Relationships Between
Doulas and Young Mothers
Jon Korfmacher and Marisha Humphries

Doulas As Facilitators of Transformation and Grief
Amy L. Gilliland


Learning to Walk in Water:
Invoking Yemanja on the Doula Path
Maria E. Hamilton Abegunde

“What Kind Of Doula Are You?”
Birth Doulas, Multiple Moralities, and the
Processes and Politics of “Ethical Becoming”
Nicole C. Gallicchio

“My Role Is to Walk the Tightrope”:
Doulas and Intimacy
Angela N. Castañeda and Julie Johnson Searcy

Providing Boundaries in Postpartum Doula Care
Jacqueline Kelleher


Being a Doula When Birth Choice Is Limited:
Supporting Birthing Mothers in a Mexican Hospital
Vania Smith-Oka

Cultivating Collaborative Relationships in the
Provision of Labour Support:
Doulas and Labour and Delivery Nurses
Christine Morton, Marla Seacrist, Jennifer Torres,
and Nicole Heidbreder

Story-Centred Care:
Full-Spectrum Doula Work and Narrative Medicine
Annie Robinson and Lauren Mitchell

Between Two Worlds: Doula Care, Liminality,
and the Power of Mandorla Spaces
Courtney Everson and Melissa Cheyney

Reimagining the Birthing Body:
Reproductive Justice and New Directions in Doula Care
Monica Basile

Contributor Notes

Angela Castañeda is Associate Professor of Anthropology at DePauw University. Her research in Brazil, Mexico, and the U.S. explores questions on religion, ritual, expressive culture and most recently, the cultural politics of reproduction, birth and motherhood. In addition to her work as a practicing birth and postpartum doula, she also volunteers as a Spanish childbirth educator in Bloomington, Indiana, where she lives with her family.

Julie Johnson Searcy is finishing her PhD in Anthropology and Communication and Culture at Indiana University. Her dissertation research in South Africa examines the space where reproduction, disease and technology intersect as women navigate pregnancy, birth and high rates of HIV/AIDS infection. Interested in issues of gender, reproduction and
performance, she also works as a doula and childbirth educator.