Top 25 Books Every Doula (Birth Worker) Should Read

My first introduction to Doulas was the Business of Being Born documentary on Netflix. Several months later I was attending a 3 day Training in Austin, TX by a DONA instructor. I was the only Black person and person of color in the training. I had been present for a few births prior to this training and couldn't help but feel as if I was missing a large chunk of what it meant to assist a person during childbirth. I knew it had to be more than battery candles, essentials oils and the business of aspect of being a Doula. The training left me unprepared to work with people who I felt really needed a trained advocate in the room with them. Where my presence meant not only lower chances of a c-section but also decreased chances of obstetric violence, birth rape, maternal morbidity, death etc. To me, a Full Spectrum Doula is more than a day training on abortion. It's also being fully educated on racial disparities in birth and the women of color who were "Doulas" before the Greek definition. Who did this work for the survival of their community and not repeat the same capitalistic nature of health providers and hospitals. It's knowing how to navigate having a client with open ACS cases or intimate partner violence. It's providing a safe space for teen pregnancy. It's having the language to educate Trans and Gender Nonconforming people. It's having the resources for rural/abandon communities. It's knowing how to assist any and every person, advocacy

In 1997, this groundbreaking book made a powerful entrance into the national conversation on race. In a media landscape dominated by racially biased images of welfare queens and crack babies,  Killing the Black Body  exposed America’s systemic abuse of Black women’s bodies. From slave masters’ economic stake in bonded women’s fertility to government programs that coerced thousands of poor Black women into being sterilized as late as the 1970s, these abuses pointed to the degradation of Black motherhood—and the exclusion of Black women’s reproductive needs in mainstream feminist and civil rights agendas.    Now, some two decades later,  Killing the Black Body  has not only exerted profound influence, but also remains as crucial as ever—a rallying cry for education, awareness, and action on extending reproductive justice to all women.

In 1997, this groundbreaking book made a powerful entrance into the national conversation on race. In a media landscape dominated by racially biased images of welfare queens and crack babies, Killing the Black Body exposed America’s systemic abuse of Black women’s bodies. From slave masters’ economic stake in bonded women’s fertility to government programs that coerced thousands of poor Black women into being sterilized as late as the 1970s, these abuses pointed to the degradation of Black motherhood—and the exclusion of Black women’s reproductive needs in mainstream feminist and civil rights agendas. 
 
Now, some two decades later, Killing the Black Body has not only exerted profound influence, but also remains as crucial as ever—a rallying cry for education, awareness, and action on extending reproductive justice to all women.

While most people believe that the movement to secure voluntary reproductive control for women centered solely on abortion rights, for many women abortion was not the only, or even primary, focus.  Jennifer Nelson tells the story of the feminist struggle for legal abortion and reproductive rights in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s through the particular contributions of women of color. She explores the relationship between second-wave feminists, who were concerned with a woman's right to choose, Black and Puerto Rican Nationalists, who were concerned that Black and Puerto Rican women have as many children as possible “for the revolution,” and women of color themselves, who negotiated between them. Contrary to popular belief, Nelson shows that women of color were able to successfully remake the mainstream women's liberation and abortion rights movements by appropriating select aspects of Black Nationalist politics—including addressing sterilization abuse, access to affordable childcare and healthcare, and ways to raise children out of poverty—for feminist discourse.

While most people believe that the movement to secure voluntary reproductive control for women centered solely on abortion rights, for many women abortion was not the only, or even primary, focus.

Jennifer Nelson tells the story of the feminist struggle for legal abortion and reproductive rights in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s through the particular contributions of women of color. She explores the relationship between second-wave feminists, who were concerned with a woman's right to choose, Black and Puerto Rican Nationalists, who were concerned that Black and Puerto Rican women have as many children as possible “for the revolution,” and women of color themselves, who negotiated between them. Contrary to popular belief, Nelson shows that women of color were able to successfully remake the mainstream women's liberation and abortion rights movements by appropriating select aspects of Black Nationalist politics—including addressing sterilization abuse, access to affordable childcare and healthcare, and ways to raise children out of poverty—for feminist discourse.

There is an epidemic that is going on. It is estimated that one out of every two mothers are affected by it. No one is talking about it, but a lot of women feel it. Intense fatigue, emotional fluctuations, memory issues, hormonal and other health complications, which for some, can be debilitating and even life threatening. It's called Postnatal Depletion, being depleted after having a baby and can extend from the first days of birth to more than ten years later, possibly predisposing the mother to later health complications. There is a different reality after giving birth than what is presented to us. All women don't just snap back into shape after having a baby and if they don't feel good, it's postpartum depression. In this ground breaking book, Dr. Danett Bean (Doctor of Acupuncture & Asian Medicine), preventive care, women's health specialist and survivor of postnatal depletion uncovers the roots to this phenomena as a societal issue and offers practical solutions to preventing and ending this condition. If you are an expectant or new mother, father or plan to be one someday, or you have parents that you care about in your life, you can't afford to not read this book. Comes with a Postnatal Care Template, Dr. Danett's personal list of things that helped her to recover with a Directory of Resources and a list of Specifics Tips To Help Support Mothers.

There is an epidemic that is going on. It is estimated that one out of every two mothers are affected by it. No one is talking about it, but a lot of women feel it. Intense fatigue, emotional fluctuations, memory issues, hormonal and other health complications, which for some, can be debilitating and even life threatening. It's called Postnatal Depletion, being depleted after having a baby and can extend from the first days of birth to more than ten years later, possibly predisposing the mother to later health complications. There is a different reality after giving birth than what is presented to us. All women don't just snap back into shape after having a baby and if they don't feel good, it's postpartum depression. In this ground breaking book, Dr. Danett Bean (Doctor of Acupuncture & Asian Medicine), preventive care, women's health specialist and survivor of postnatal depletion uncovers the roots to this phenomena as a societal issue and offers practical solutions to preventing and ending this condition. If you are an expectant or new mother, father or plan to be one someday, or you have parents that you care about in your life, you can't afford to not read this book. Comes with a Postnatal Care Template, Dr. Danett's personal list of things that helped her to recover with a Directory of Resources and a list of Specifics Tips To Help Support Mothers.

There is a global crisis in maternal health care for black women. In the United States, black women are over three times more likely to perish from pregnancy-related complications than white women; their babies are half as likely to survive the first year. Many black women experience policing, coercion, and disempowerment during pregnancy and childbirth and are disconnected from alternative birthing traditions. This book places black women's voices at the center of the debate on what should be done to fix the broken maternity system and foregrounds black women's agency in the emerging birth justice movement. Mixing scholarly, activist, and personal perspectives, the book shows readers how they too can change lives, one birth at a time.

There is a global crisis in maternal health care for black women. In the United States, black women are over three times more likely to perish from pregnancy-related complications than white women; their babies are half as likely to survive the first year. Many black women experience policing, coercion, and disempowerment during pregnancy and childbirth and are disconnected from alternative birthing traditions. This book places black women's voices at the center of the debate on what should be done to fix the broken maternity system and foregrounds black women's agency in the emerging birth justice movement. Mixing scholarly, activist, and personal perspectives, the book shows readers how they too can change lives, one birth at a time.

Reproducing Race , an ethnography of pregnancy and birth at a large New York City public hospital, explores the role of race in the medical setting. Khiara M. Bridges investigates how race—commonly seen as biological in the medical world—is socially constructed among women dependent on the public healthcare system for prenatal care and childbirth. Bridges argues that race carries powerful material consequences for these women even when it is not explicitly named, showing how they are marginalized by the practices and assumptions of the clinic staff. Deftly weaving ethnographic evidence into broader discussions of Medicaid and racial disparities in infant and maternal mortality, Bridges shines new light on the politics of healthcare for the poor, demonstrating how the “medicalization” of social problems reproduces racial stereotypes and governs the bodies of poor women of color.

Reproducing Race, an ethnography of pregnancy and birth at a large New York City public hospital, explores the role of race in the medical setting. Khiara M. Bridges investigates how race—commonly seen as biological in the medical world—is socially constructed among women dependent on the public healthcare system for prenatal care and childbirth. Bridges argues that race carries powerful material consequences for these women even when it is not explicitly named, showing how they are marginalized by the practices and assumptions of the clinic staff. Deftly weaving ethnographic evidence into broader discussions of Medicaid and racial disparities in infant and maternal mortality, Bridges shines new light on the politics of healthcare for the poor, demonstrating how the “medicalization” of social problems reproduces racial stereotypes and governs the bodies of poor women of color.

Birth Work as Care Work  presents a vibrant collection of stories and insights from the front lines of birth activist communities. The personal has once more becomes political, and birth workers, supporters, and doulas now find themselves at the fore of collective struggles for freedom and dignity. Articulating a politics of care work in and through the reproductive process, the book brings diverse voices into conversation to explore multiple possibilities and avenues for change. At a moment when agency over our childbirth experiences is increasingly centralized in the hands of professional elites,  Birth Work as Care Work  presents creative new ways to reimagine the trajectory of our reproductive processes. Most importantly, the contributors present new ways of thinking about the entire life cycle, providing a unique and creative entry point into the essence of all human struggle—the struggle over the reproduction of life itself.

Birth Work as Care Work presents a vibrant collection of stories and insights from the front lines of birth activist communities. The personal has once more becomes political, and birth workers, supporters, and doulas now find themselves at the fore of collective struggles for freedom and dignity. Articulating a politics of care work in and through the reproductive process, the book brings diverse voices into conversation to explore multiple possibilities and avenues for change. At a moment when agency over our childbirth experiences is increasingly centralized in the hands of professional elites, Birth Work as Care Work presents creative new ways to reimagine the trajectory of our reproductive processes. Most importantly, the contributors present new ways of thinking about the entire life cycle, providing a unique and creative entry point into the essence of all human struggle—the struggle over the reproduction of life itself.

This anthology assembles two decades of work initiated by SisterSong Women of Color Health Collective, creators of the human rights–based “reproductive justice” framework to move beyond polarized pro-choice/pro-life debates. Rooted in Black feminism and built on intersecting identities, this revolutionary framework asserts a woman’s right to have children, to not have children, and to parent and provide for the children they have.

This anthology assembles two decades of work initiated by SisterSong Women of Color Health Collective, creators of the human rights–based “reproductive justice” framework to move beyond polarized pro-choice/pro-life debates. Rooted in Black feminism and built on intersecting identities, this revolutionary framework asserts a woman’s right to have children, to not have children, and to parent and provide for the children they have.

Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines  is an anthology that centers mothers of color and marginalized mothers’ voices—women who are in a world of necessary transformation. The challenges faced by movements working for antiviolence, anti-imperialist, and queer liberation, as well as racial, economic, reproductive, gender, and food justice are the same challenges that marginalized mothers face every day. Motivated to create spaces for this discourse because of the authors’ passionate belief in the power of a radical conversation about mothering, they have become the go-to people for cutting-edge inspired work on this topic for an overlapping committed audience of activists, scholars, and writers.  Revolutionary Mothering  is a movement-shifting anthology committed to birthing new worlds, full of faith and hope for what we can raise up together. 

Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines is an anthology that centers mothers of color and marginalized mothers’ voices—women who are in a world of necessary transformation. The challenges faced by movements working for antiviolence, anti-imperialist, and queer liberation, as well as racial, economic, reproductive, gender, and food justice are the same challenges that marginalized mothers face every day. Motivated to create spaces for this discourse because of the authors’ passionate belief in the power of a radical conversation about mothering, they have become the go-to people for cutting-edge inspired work on this topic for an overlapping committed audience of activists, scholars, and writers. Revolutionary Mothering is a movement-shifting anthology committed to birthing new worlds, full of faith and hope for what we can raise up together. 

Undivided Rights  captures the evolving and largely unknown activist history of women of color organizing for reproductive justice—on their own behalf.   Undivided Rights  presents a textured understanding of the reproductive rights movement by placing the experiences, priorities, and activism of women of color in the foreground. Using historical research, original organizational case studies, and personal interviews, the authors illuminate how women of color have led the fight to control their own bodies and reproductive destinies. Undivided Rights shows how women of color—-starting within their own Latina, African American, Native American, and Asian American communities—have resisted coercion of their reproductive abilities. Projected against the backdrop of the mainstream pro-choice movement and radical right agendas, these dynamic case studies feature the groundbreaking work being done by health and reproductive rights organizations led by women-of-color.  The book details how and why these women have defined and implemented expansive reproductive health agendas that reject legalistic remedies and seek instead to address the wider needs of their communities. It stresses the urgency for innovative strategies that push beyond the traditional base and goals of the mainstream pro-choice movement—strategies that are broadly inclusive while being specific, strategies that speak to all women by speaking to each woman. While the authors raise tough questions about inclusion, identity politics, and the future of women’s organizing, they also offer a way out of the limiting focus on "choice."   Undivided Rights  articulates a holistic vision for reproductive freedom. It refuses to allow our human rights to be divvied up and parceled out into isolated boxes that people are then forced to pick and choose among.

Undivided Rights captures the evolving and largely unknown activist history of women of color organizing for reproductive justice—on their own behalf.

Undivided Rights presents a textured understanding of the reproductive rights movement by placing the experiences, priorities, and activism of women of color in the foreground. Using historical research, original organizational case studies, and personal interviews, the authors illuminate how women of color have led the fight to control their own bodies and reproductive destinies. Undivided Rights shows how women of color—-starting within their own Latina, African American, Native American, and Asian American communities—have resisted coercion of their reproductive abilities. Projected against the backdrop of the mainstream pro-choice movement and radical right agendas, these dynamic case studies feature the groundbreaking work being done by health and reproductive rights organizations led by women-of-color.

The book details how and why these women have defined and implemented expansive reproductive health agendas that reject legalistic remedies and seek instead to address the wider needs of their communities. It stresses the urgency for innovative strategies that push beyond the traditional base and goals of the mainstream pro-choice movement—strategies that are broadly inclusive while being specific, strategies that speak to all women by speaking to each woman. While the authors raise tough questions about inclusion, identity politics, and the future of women’s organizing, they also offer a way out of the limiting focus on "choice."

Undivided Rights articulates a holistic vision for reproductive freedom. It refuses to allow our human rights to be divvied up and parceled out into isolated boxes that people are then forced to pick and choose among.

When Survivors Give Birth is written for a mixed audience of maternity care professionals and para-professionals, mental health therapists and counselors, and women survivors and their families. The authors expertly and compassionately address the unusual and distressing challenges that arise for abuse survivors during the childbirth experience.  The first section informs the reader of the impact of early sexual abuse on children, adults, and on all aspects of childbearing. The second section teaches skills in communication, self-help skills, counseling and psychotherapy techniques. The third covers clinical challenges and solutions for doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, and others. Case histories throughout the book clarify and apply the content.

When Survivors Give Birth is written for a mixed audience of maternity care professionals and para-professionals, mental health therapists and counselors, and women survivors and their families. The authors expertly and compassionately address the unusual and distressing challenges that arise for abuse survivors during the childbirth experience.

The first section informs the reader of the impact of early sexual abuse on children, adults, and on all aspects of childbearing. The second section teaches skills in communication, self-help skills, counseling and psychotherapy techniques. The third covers clinical challenges and solutions for doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, and others. Case histories throughout the book clarify and apply the content.

"Motherwit" and "common sense" were the watchwords of Onnie Lee Logan's career as a lay midwife in Mobile County, Alabama. Although she received little formal education, endured the Depression and faced a racist society, Onnie Lee Logan experienced her life as the triumphant fulfillment of a dream to be one of those who could bring babies into the world, as her mother and grandmother had done before her. Her story, told in the soft, now vanishing dialect of the Deep South, is powerful and fascinating oral history. Motherwit follows her life through her work as a servant for a wealthy Mobile family, her troubled marriage during the Depression, and her struggle to become a licensed midwife. We watch as she delivers the babies of both black and white women of Alabama--losing only one baby in 40 years. Onnie Lee Logan's forbearance in the face of the crushing prejudice of the rural South makes inspiring and unforgettable reading. When she passed away in 1995, the New York Times declared her a “folk hero,” and Time called her book “a feminist classic.” Filled with startling drama and profound wisdom, Motherwit is an important contribution to African-American history. "An amazing story. A heroic woman and life after my own heart." Alice Walker "To have told her own story, to have borne this eloquent witness to her life is Onnie Lee Logan's final triumph." Ellen Douglas in the Washington Post Book World "Oral history doesn't come much better than this." Booklist "Beautiful...her passion rings through in every line." Los Angeles Times

"Motherwit" and "common sense" were the watchwords of Onnie Lee Logan's career as a lay midwife in Mobile County, Alabama. Although she received little formal education, endured the Depression and faced a racist society, Onnie Lee Logan experienced her life as the triumphant fulfillment of a dream to be one of those who could bring babies into the world, as her mother and grandmother had done before her. Her story, told in the soft, now vanishing dialect of the Deep South, is powerful and fascinating oral history. Motherwit follows her life through her work as a servant for a wealthy Mobile family, her troubled marriage during the Depression, and her struggle to become a licensed midwife. We watch as she delivers the babies of both black and white women of Alabama--losing only one baby in 40 years. Onnie Lee Logan's forbearance in the face of the crushing prejudice of the rural South makes inspiring and unforgettable reading. When she passed away in 1995, the New York Times declared her a “folk hero,” and Time called her book “a feminist classic.” Filled with startling drama and profound wisdom, Motherwit is an important contribution to African-American history. "An amazing story. A heroic woman and life after my own heart." Alice Walker "To have told her own story, to have borne this eloquent witness to her life is Onnie Lee Logan's final triumph." Ellen Douglas in the Washington Post Book World "Oral history doesn't come much better than this." Booklist "Beautiful...her passion rings through in every line." Los Angeles Times

Midwives, women healers and root workers have been central figures in the African American folk traditions. Particularly in Black communities in the rural south, these women served vital social, cultural and political functions. It was believed that they possessed magical powers: they negotiated the barrier between life and death and were often regarded as the "knower" in a community. Today even as medical science has discredited or superseded their power, granny midwives have resurfaced as pivotal characters in the narratives of contemporary African American literature.    Granny     Midwives and Black Women Writers   examines the lives of  real  granny midwives and other healers--through oral narratives, ethnographic research and documentation--and considers them in tandem with their fictional counterparts in the work of Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker and others.

Midwives, women healers and root workers have been central figures in the African American folk traditions. Particularly in Black communities in the rural south, these women served vital social, cultural and political functions. It was believed that they possessed magical powers: they negotiated the barrier between life and death and were often regarded as the "knower" in a community. Today even as medical science has discredited or superseded their power, granny midwives have resurfaced as pivotal characters in the narratives of contemporary African American literature.

Granny Midwives and Black Women Writers examines the lives of real granny midwives and other healers--through oral narratives, ethnographic research and documentation--and considers them in tandem with their fictional counterparts in the work of Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker and others.

Pediatricians say you should but it's okay if you don't. The hospital says, "Breast is best," but sends you home with formula "just in case." Your sister-in-law says, "Of course you should!" Your mother says, "I didn't, and you turned out just fine." Celebrities are photographed nursing in public, yet breastfeeding mothers are asked to cover up in malls and on airplanes. Breastfeeding is a private act, yet everyone has an opinion about it. How did feeding our babies get so complicated?  Journalist and infant health advocate Kimberly Seals Allers breaks breastfeeding out of the realm of "personal choice" and shows our broader connection to an industrialized food system that begins at birth, the fallout of feminist ideals, and the federal policies that are far from family friendly.  The Big Letdown  uncovers the multibillion-dollar forces battling to replace mothers' milk and the failure of the medical establishment to protect infant health. Weaving together research and personal stories with original reporting on medicine, big pharma, and hospitals, Kimberly Seals Allers shows how mothers and babies have been abandoned by all the forces that should be supporting families from the start--and what we can do to help.

Pediatricians say you should but it's okay if you don't. The hospital says, "Breast is best," but sends you home with formula "just in case." Your sister-in-law says, "Of course you should!" Your mother says, "I didn't, and you turned out just fine." Celebrities are photographed nursing in public, yet breastfeeding mothers are asked to cover up in malls and on airplanes. Breastfeeding is a private act, yet everyone has an opinion about it. How did feeding our babies get so complicated?

Journalist and infant health advocate Kimberly Seals Allers breaks breastfeeding out of the realm of "personal choice" and shows our broader connection to an industrialized food system that begins at birth, the fallout of feminist ideals, and the federal policies that are far from family friendly. The Big Letdown uncovers the multibillion-dollar forces battling to replace mothers' milk and the failure of the medical establishment to protect infant health. Weaving together research and personal stories with original reporting on medicine, big pharma, and hospitals, Kimberly Seals Allers shows how mothers and babies have been abandoned by all the forces that should be supporting families from the start--and what we can do to help.

Patrisia Gonzales addresses "Red Medicine" as a system of healing that includes birthing practices, dreaming, and purification rites to re-establish personal and social equilibrium. The book explores Indigenous medicine across North America, with a special emphasis on how Indigenous knowledge has endured and persisted among peoples with a legacy to Mexico. Gonzales combines her lived experience in  Red Medicine  as an herbalist and traditional birth attendant with in-depth research into oral traditions, storytelling, and the meanings of symbols to uncover how Indigenous knowledge endures over time. And she shows how this knowledge is now being reclaimed by Chicanos, Mexican Americans and Mexican Indigenous peoples.  For Gonzales, a central guiding force in Red Medicine is the principal of regeneration as it is manifested in Spiderwoman. Dating to Pre-Columbian times, the Mesoamerican Weaver/Spiderwoman—the guardian of birth, medicine, and purification rites such as the Nahua sweat bath—exemplifies the interconnected process of rebalancing that transpires throughout life in mental, spiritual and physical manifestations. Gonzales also explains how dreaming is a form of diagnosing in traditional Indigenous medicine and how Indigenous concepts of the body provide insight into healing various kinds of trauma.  Gonzales links pre-Columbian thought to contemporary healing practices by examining ancient symbols and their relation to current curative knowledges among Indigenous peoples.  Red Medicine  suggests that Indigenous healing systems can usefully point contemporary people back to ancestral teachings and help them reconnect to the dynamics of the natural world.

Patrisia Gonzales addresses "Red Medicine" as a system of healing that includes birthing practices, dreaming, and purification rites to re-establish personal and social equilibrium. The book explores Indigenous medicine across North America, with a special emphasis on how Indigenous knowledge has endured and persisted among peoples with a legacy to Mexico. Gonzales combines her lived experience in Red Medicine as an herbalist and traditional birth attendant with in-depth research into oral traditions, storytelling, and the meanings of symbols to uncover how Indigenous knowledge endures over time. And she shows how this knowledge is now being reclaimed by Chicanos, Mexican Americans and Mexican Indigenous peoples.

For Gonzales, a central guiding force in Red Medicine is the principal of regeneration as it is manifested in Spiderwoman. Dating to Pre-Columbian times, the Mesoamerican Weaver/Spiderwoman—the guardian of birth, medicine, and purification rites such as the Nahua sweat bath—exemplifies the interconnected process of rebalancing that transpires throughout life in mental, spiritual and physical manifestations. Gonzales also explains how dreaming is a form of diagnosing in traditional Indigenous medicine and how Indigenous concepts of the body provide insight into healing various kinds of trauma.

Gonzales links pre-Columbian thought to contemporary healing practices by examining ancient symbols and their relation to current curative knowledges among Indigenous peoples. Red Medicine suggests that Indigenous healing systems can usefully point contemporary people back to ancestral teachings and help them reconnect to the dynamics of the natural world.

This timely, up-to-date guide addresses the unique economic and social issues of black women while showing them why and how to breastfeed their children.  African American infants are twice as likely to die before their first birthdays as white infants, have the highest rate of asthma of any race and have a 35 percent higher prevalence of childhood obesity than white children. African American women are 2.2 times more likely to die from breast cancer and 30 percent more likely to die from ovarian cancer than white women.  All of these health crises can be remedied to some degree with breastfeeding, but virtually all breastfeeding literature on the market fails to speak to the financial, educational and cultural realities of many African American women. The Black Woman's Guide to Breastfeeding addresses the importance of breastfeeding in the African American community and provides all the practical advice African American mothers need to succeed at breastfeeding.

This timely, up-to-date guide addresses the unique economic and social issues of black women while showing them why and how to breastfeed their children.

African American infants are twice as likely to die before their first birthdays as white infants, have the highest rate of asthma of any race and have a 35 percent higher prevalence of childhood obesity than white children. African American women are 2.2 times more likely to die from breast cancer and 30 percent more likely to die from ovarian cancer than white women.

All of these health crises can be remedied to some degree with breastfeeding, but virtually all breastfeeding literature on the market fails to speak to the financial, educational and cultural realities of many African American women. The Black Woman's Guide to Breastfeeding addresses the importance of breastfeeding in the African American community and provides all the practical advice African American mothers need to succeed at breastfeeding.

A collection of suggestions, tips, and narratives on ways everyone can support parents, children, and caregivers involved in social movements, this book focuses on social justice, mutual aid, and collective liberation. One of the few books dealing with community support for issues facing children and families, this reflection on inclusivity in social awareness offers real-life ways to reach out to the families involved in campaigns such as the Occupy Movement. Contributors include the Bay Area Childcare Collective, the London Pro-Feminist Men's Group, and Mamas of Color Rising.

A collection of suggestions, tips, and narratives on ways everyone can support parents, children, and caregivers involved in social movements, this book focuses on social justice, mutual aid, and collective liberation. One of the few books dealing with community support for issues facing children and families, this reflection on inclusivity in social awareness offers real-life ways to reach out to the families involved in campaigns such as the Occupy Movement. Contributors include the Bay Area Childcare Collective, the London Pro-Feminist Men's Group, and Mamas of Color Rising.

Exploring the charged topic of black health under slavery, Sharla Fett reveals how herbalism, conjuring, midwifery, and other African American healing practices became arts of resistance in the antebellum South.   Fett shows how enslaved men and women drew on African precedents to develop a view of health and healing that was distinctly at odds with slaveholders' property concerns. While white slaveowners narrowly defined slave health in terms of "soundness" for labor, slaves embraced a relational view of health that was intimately tied to religion and community. African American healing practices thus not only restored the body but also provided a formidable weapon against white objectification of black health.   Enslaved women played a particularly important role in plantation health culture: they made medicines, cared for the sick, and served as midwives in both black and white households. Their labor as health workers not only proved essential to plantation production but also gave them a basis of authority within enslaved communities. Not surprisingly, conflicts frequently arose between slave doctoring women and the whites who attempted to supervise their work, as did conflicts related to feigned illness, poisoning threats, and African-based religious practices. By examining the deeply contentious dynamics of plantation healing, Fett sheds new light on the broader power relations of antebellum American slavery.

Exploring the charged topic of black health under slavery, Sharla Fett reveals how herbalism, conjuring, midwifery, and other African American healing practices became arts of resistance in the antebellum South. 

Fett shows how enslaved men and women drew on African precedents to develop a view of health and healing that was distinctly at odds with slaveholders' property concerns. While white slaveowners narrowly defined slave health in terms of "soundness" for labor, slaves embraced a relational view of health that was intimately tied to religion and community. African American healing practices thus not only restored the body but also provided a formidable weapon against white objectification of black health. 

Enslaved women played a particularly important role in plantation health culture: they made medicines, cared for the sick, and served as midwives in both black and white households. Their labor as health workers not only proved essential to plantation production but also gave them a basis of authority within enslaved communities. Not surprisingly, conflicts frequently arose between slave doctoring women and the whites who attempted to supervise their work, as did conflicts related to feigned illness, poisoning threats, and African-based religious practices. By examining the deeply contentious dynamics of plantation healing, Fett sheds new light on the broader power relations of antebellum American slavery.

From the era of slavery to the present day, the first full history of black America’s shocking mistreatment as unwilling and unwitting experimental subjects at the hands of the medical establishment.   Medical Apartheid  is the first and only comprehensive history of medical experimentation on African Americans. Starting with the earliest encounters between black Americans and Western medical researchers and the racist pseudoscience that resulted, it details the ways both slaves and freedmen were used in hospitals for experiments conducted without their knowledge—a tradition that continues today within some black populations. It reveals how blacks have historically been prey to grave-robbing as well as unauthorized autopsies and dissections. Moving into the twentieth century, it shows how the pseudoscience of eugenics and social Darwinism was used to justify experimental exploitation and shoddy medical treatment of blacks, and the view that they were biologically inferior, oversexed, and unfit for adult responsibilities. Shocking new details about the government’s notorious Tuskegee experiment are revealed, as are similar, less-well-known medical atrocities conducted by the government, the armed forces, prisons, and private institutions.  The product of years of prodigious research into medical journals and experimental reports long undisturbed,  Medical Apartheid  reveals the hidden underbelly of scientific research and makes possible, for the first time, an understanding of the roots of the African American health deficit. At last, it provides the fullest possible context for comprehending the behavioral fallout that has caused black Americans to view researchers—and indeed the whole medical establishment—with such deep distrust. No one concerned with issues of public health and racial justice can afford not to read  Medical Apartheid , a masterful book that will stir up both controversy and long-needed debate.

From the era of slavery to the present day, the first full history of black America’s shocking mistreatment as unwilling and unwitting experimental subjects at the hands of the medical establishment.

Medical Apartheid is the first and only comprehensive history of medical experimentation on African Americans. Starting with the earliest encounters between black Americans and Western medical researchers and the racist pseudoscience that resulted, it details the ways both slaves and freedmen were used in hospitals for experiments conducted without their knowledge—a tradition that continues today within some black populations. It reveals how blacks have historically been prey to grave-robbing as well as unauthorized autopsies and dissections. Moving into the twentieth century, it shows how the pseudoscience of eugenics and social Darwinism was used to justify experimental exploitation and shoddy medical treatment of blacks, and the view that they were biologically inferior, oversexed, and unfit for adult responsibilities. Shocking new details about the government’s notorious Tuskegee experiment are revealed, as are similar, less-well-known medical atrocities conducted by the government, the armed forces, prisons, and private institutions.

The product of years of prodigious research into medical journals and experimental reports long undisturbed, Medical Apartheid reveals the hidden underbelly of scientific research and makes possible, for the first time, an understanding of the roots of the African American health deficit. At last, it provides the fullest possible context for comprehending the behavioral fallout that has caused black Americans to view researchers—and indeed the whole medical establishment—with such deep distrust. No one concerned with issues of public health and racial justice can afford not to read Medical Apartheid, a masterful book that will stir up both controversy and long-needed debate.

Laboring Positions aims to disrupt the dominant discourse on academic women s mothering experiences. Black women s maternity is assumed, and yet is also silenced within the disembodied, patriarchal, racist, antifamily, and increasingly neoliberal work environment of academia. This volume acknowledges the salience of the institutional challenges facing contemporary caregiving academics; yet it is centrally concerned with expanding the academic mothering conversation by speaking against the private/public spheres approach. Laboring Positions does so by privileging the hybridity between Black women s mothering experiences and their working lives within and beyond the academy. The collection also intentionally blurs essentialist boundaries of mother and other , which dictates and generates alternate border zones of knowledge production concerning Black academic women s working lives. In doing so, the diverse perspectives captured herein offer us cogent starting points from which to interrogate the interlocking cultural, political, and economic hierarchies of the academy. The editorial goal of Laboring Positions is to offer a polyvocal collection embodying themes that privilege and arouse Black mothering as central in the narratives, research, and models of existence and resistance for Black women s survival within the academy. The contributors utilize a wide variety of methods and perspectives including Black feminist theory, intersectional feminism, Womanist research ethics, hip-hop feminism, African-centered epistemologies, literary analysis, autoethnography, policy analysis, memoir, qualitative research, survival strategies and frameworks, and situated testimony that are all collectively bound by Black women s intellectual lives, activist impulses, and experiences of mothering or being mothered. The critical embodied perspectives herein serve as evidence that Black women exist beyond the institutional and ideological boundaries that have attempted to define their journeys.Labouring Positions chapters speak to each other and some conversations are louder than others; yet together they offer us a complexly nuanced portrait of the emergent literature on race, gender, mothering, and work.

Laboring Positions aims to disrupt the dominant discourse on academic women s mothering experiences. Black women s maternity is assumed, and yet is also silenced within the disembodied, patriarchal, racist, antifamily, and increasingly neoliberal work environment of academia. This volume acknowledges the salience of the institutional challenges facing contemporary caregiving academics; yet it is centrally concerned with expanding the academic mothering conversation by speaking against the private/public spheres approach. Laboring Positions does so by privileging the hybridity between Black women s mothering experiences and their working lives within and beyond the academy. The collection also intentionally blurs essentialist boundaries of mother and other , which dictates and generates alternate border zones of knowledge production concerning Black academic women s working lives. In doing so, the diverse perspectives captured herein offer us cogent starting points from which to interrogate the interlocking cultural, political, and economic hierarchies of the academy. The editorial goal of Laboring Positions is to offer a polyvocal collection embodying themes that privilege and arouse Black mothering as central in the narratives, research, and models of existence and resistance for Black women s survival within the academy. The contributors utilize a wide variety of methods and perspectives including Black feminist theory, intersectional feminism, Womanist research ethics, hip-hop feminism, African-centered epistemologies, literary analysis, autoethnography, policy analysis, memoir, qualitative research, survival strategies and frameworks, and situated testimony that are all collectively bound by Black women s intellectual lives, activist impulses, and experiences of mothering or being mothered. The critical embodied perspectives herein serve as evidence that Black women exist beyond the institutional and ideological boundaries that have attempted to define their journeys.Labouring Positions chapters speak to each other and some conversations are louder than others; yet together they offer us a complexly nuanced portrait of the emergent literature on race, gender, mothering, and work.

Starting at the turn of the century, most African American midwives in the South were gradually excluded from reproductive health care. Gertrude Fraser shows how physicians, public health personnel, and state legislators mounted a campaign ostensibly to improve maternal and infant health, especially in rural areas. They brought traditional midwives under the control of a supervisory body, and eventually eliminated them. In the writings and programs produced by these physicians and public health officials, Fraser finds a universe of ideas about race, gender, the relationship of medicine to society, and the status of the South in the national political and social economies.  Fraser also studies this experience through dialogues of memory. She interviews members of a rural Virginia African American community that included not just retired midwives and their descendants, but anyone who lived through this transformation in medical care--especially the women who gave birth at home attended by a midwife. She compares these narrations to those in contemporary medical journals and public health materials, discovering contradictions and ambivalence: was the midwife a figure of shame or pride? How did one distance oneself from what was now considered "superstitious" or "backward" and at the same time acknowledge and show pride in the former unquestioned authority of these beliefs and practices?  In an important contribution to African American studies and anthropology,  African American Midwifery in the South brings new voices to the discourse on the hidden world of midwives and birthing.

Starting at the turn of the century, most African American midwives in the South were gradually excluded from reproductive health care. Gertrude Fraser shows how physicians, public health personnel, and state legislators mounted a campaign ostensibly to improve maternal and infant health, especially in rural areas. They brought traditional midwives under the control of a supervisory body, and eventually eliminated them. In the writings and programs produced by these physicians and public health officials, Fraser finds a universe of ideas about race, gender, the relationship of medicine to society, and the status of the South in the national political and social economies.

Fraser also studies this experience through dialogues of memory. She interviews members of a rural Virginia African American community that included not just retired midwives and their descendants, but anyone who lived through this transformation in medical care--especially the women who gave birth at home attended by a midwife. She compares these narrations to those in contemporary medical journals and public health materials, discovering contradictions and ambivalence: was the midwife a figure of shame or pride? How did one distance oneself from what was now considered "superstitious" or "backward" and at the same time acknowledge and show pride in the former unquestioned authority of these beliefs and practices?

In an important contribution to African American studies and anthropology, African American Midwifery in the Southbrings new voices to the discourse on the hidden world of midwives and birthing.

African-American Slave Medicine offers a critical examination of how African-American slaves medical needs were addressed during the years before and surrounding the Civil War. Drawing upon ex-slave interviews conducted during the 1930s and 1940s by the Works Project Administration (WPA), Dr. Herbert C. Covey inventories many of the herbal, plant, and non-plant remedies used by African-American folk practitioners during slavery. He demonstrates how active the slaves were in their own medical care and the important role faith played in the healing process. This book links each referenced plant or herb to modern scientific evidence to determine its actual worth and effects on the patients. Through his study, Dr. Covey unravels many of the complex social relationships found between the African-American slaves, Whites, folk practitioners, and patients. African-American Slave Medicine is a compelling and captivating read that will appeal to scholars of African-American history and those interested in folk medicine.

African-American Slave Medicine offers a critical examination of how African-American slaves medical needs were addressed during the years before and surrounding the Civil War. Drawing upon ex-slave interviews conducted during the 1930s and 1940s by the Works Project Administration (WPA), Dr. Herbert C. Covey inventories many of the herbal, plant, and non-plant remedies used by African-American folk practitioners during slavery. He demonstrates how active the slaves were in their own medical care and the important role faith played in the healing process. This book links each referenced plant or herb to modern scientific evidence to determine its actual worth and effects on the patients. Through his study, Dr. Covey unravels many of the complex social relationships found between the African-American slaves, Whites, folk practitioners, and patients. African-American Slave Medicine is a compelling and captivating read that will appeal to scholars of African-American history and those interested in folk medicine.

Based on the accounts of midwives, their descendants, and the women they served,  In the Way of Our Grandmothers  tells of the midwife's trade―her principles, traditions, and skills―and of the competing medical profession's successful program to systematically destroy the practice.  The rural South was one of the last strongholds of the traditional "granny" midwife. Whether she came by her trade through individual choice or inherited a practice from an older relative, a woman who accepted the "call" of midwife launched a lifelong vocation of public service. While the profession was arduous, it had numerous rewards. Midwives assumed positions of leadership within their communities, were able to define themselves and their actions on their own terms, and derived a great sense of pride and satisfaction from performing a much-loved job.  Despite national statistics that placed midwives above all other attendants in low childbirth mortality, Florida's state health experts began in the early twentieth century to view the craft as a menace to public health. Efforts to regulate midwives through education and licensing were part of a long-term plan to replace them with modern medical and hospital services. Eager to demonstrate their good will and common interest, most midwives complied with the increasingly restrictive rules imposed by the state, unknowingly contributing to the demise of their own profession.  The recent interest of the youthful middle class in home birth methods has been accompanied by a rediscovery of the midwife's craft. Yet the new midwifery represents the state's successful attainment of a long-awaited goal: the replacement of the traditional lay midwife with the modern nurse-midwife.  In the Way of Our Grandmothers provides a voice for the few women in the South who still remember the earlier trade―one that evolved organically from the needs of women and existed outside the realms of men.

Based on the accounts of midwives, their descendants, and the women they served, In the Way of Our Grandmothers tells of the midwife's trade―her principles, traditions, and skills―and of the competing medical profession's successful program to systematically destroy the practice.

The rural South was one of the last strongholds of the traditional "granny" midwife. Whether she came by her trade through individual choice or inherited a practice from an older relative, a woman who accepted the "call" of midwife launched a lifelong vocation of public service. While the profession was arduous, it had numerous rewards. Midwives assumed positions of leadership within their communities, were able to define themselves and their actions on their own terms, and derived a great sense of pride and satisfaction from performing a much-loved job.

Despite national statistics that placed midwives above all other attendants in low childbirth mortality, Florida's state health experts began in the early twentieth century to view the craft as a menace to public health. Efforts to regulate midwives through education and licensing were part of a long-term plan to replace them with modern medical and hospital services. Eager to demonstrate their good will and common interest, most midwives complied with the increasingly restrictive rules imposed by the state, unknowingly contributing to the demise of their own profession.

The recent interest of the youthful middle class in home birth methods has been accompanied by a rediscovery of the midwife's craft. Yet the new midwifery represents the state's successful attainment of a long-awaited goal: the replacement of the traditional lay midwife with the modern nurse-midwife. In the Way of Our Grandmothersprovides a voice for the few women in the South who still remember the earlier trade―one that evolved organically from the needs of women and existed outside the realms of men.

Claudine Curry Smith delivered over 500 babies in her three decades as a midwife in rural Virginia, traveling at all times of day and night and in all sorts of weather. Born in 1918, this remarkable woman grew up in the segregated South, married at seventeen, raised seven children, drove a school bus for 37 years, picked crabs, shucked oysters, cut and packed fish, picked and peeled tomatoes, shucked corn, took care of children and elderly people, looked after sick folks, and cooked and cleaned for White people as well as for her own family. Married for 67 years, she is a treasure trove of stories about her life and times. When her first child was born with the help of a midwife, she was only 17 and living with her grandparents. To let the midwife, an aunt, know that labor had begun, someone rode by horseback to her home and she returned in her horse and buggy. Although there was no running water or electricity there, everything was ready for the midwife and the delivery went smoothly.Mrs. Smiths own practice as a midwife included many homes without running water or electricity, but she always knew what to do. She delivered several premature babies and even a set of twins. And in all her years of practice, she never lost a mother.This book tells her story in her own words, with some background information written by the co-author to provide historical context. Her story illustrates the challenges and joys of a way of life unknown to much of contemporary American society but greatly valued by African Americans throughout the South. It offers one of the few written accounts of a time and practice largely ignored by history.

Claudine Curry Smith delivered over 500 babies in her three decades as a midwife in rural Virginia, traveling at all times of day and night and in all sorts of weather. Born in 1918, this remarkable woman grew up in the segregated South, married at seventeen, raised seven children, drove a school bus for 37 years, picked crabs, shucked oysters, cut and packed fish, picked and peeled tomatoes, shucked corn, took care of children and elderly people, looked after sick folks, and cooked and cleaned for White people as well as for her own family. Married for 67 years, she is a treasure trove of stories about her life and times. When her first child was born with the help of a midwife, she was only 17 and living with her grandparents. To let the midwife, an aunt, know that labor had begun, someone rode by horseback to her home and she returned in her horse and buggy. Although there was no running water or electricity there, everything was ready for the midwife and the delivery went smoothly.Mrs. Smiths own practice as a midwife included many homes without running water or electricity, but she always knew what to do. She delivered several premature babies and even a set of twins. And in all her years of practice, she never lost a mother.This book tells her story in her own words, with some background information written by the co-author to provide historical context. Her story illustrates the challenges and joys of a way of life unknown to much of contemporary American society but greatly valued by African Americans throughout the South. It offers one of the few written accounts of a time and practice largely ignored by history.

As we watch another agonizing attempt to shift the future of healthcare in the United States, we are reminded of the longevity of this crisis, and how firmly entrenched we are in a system that doesn't work.   Witches, Midwives, and Nurses , first published by the Feminist Press in 1973, is an essential book about the corruption of the medical establishment and its historic roots in witch hunters. In this new edition, Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English have written an entirely new chapter that delves into the current fascination with and controversies about witches, exposing our fears and fantasies. They build on their classic exposé on the demonization of women healers and the political and economic monopolization of medicine. This quick history brings us up-to-date, exploring today's changing attitudes toward childbirth, alternative medicine, and modern-day witches.

As we watch another agonizing attempt to shift the future of healthcare in the United States, we are reminded of the longevity of this crisis, and how firmly entrenched we are in a system that doesn't work.

Witches, Midwives, and Nurses, first published by the Feminist Press in 1973, is an essential book about the corruption of the medical establishment and its historic roots in witch hunters. In this new edition, Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English have written an entirely new chapter that delves into the current fascination with and controversies about witches, exposing our fears and fantasies. They build on their classic exposé on the demonization of women healers and the political and economic monopolization of medicine. This quick history brings us up-to-date, exploring today's changing attitudes toward childbirth, alternative medicine, and modern-day witches.

Here is a holistic approach to childbirth that examines this profound rite-of-passage not as a medical event but as an act of self-discovery. Exercises and activities such as journal writing, meditation, and painting will help mothers analyze their thoughts and face their fears during pregnancy. For use during birth, the book offers proven techniques for coping with labor pain without drugs, a discussion of the doctor or midwife’s role, and a look at the father’s responsibilities. Childbirth education should also include what to expect after the baby is born. Here are baby basics, such as how to bathe a newborn, how to get the little one to sleep, and tips for getting nursing off to a good start. Pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is a process of continuous learning and adjustment;  Birthing From Within  provides the necessary support and education to make each phase of birthing a rewarding experience.

Here is a holistic approach to childbirth that examines this profound rite-of-passage not as a medical event but as an act of self-discovery. Exercises and activities such as journal writing, meditation, and painting will help mothers analyze their thoughts and face their fears during pregnancy. For use during birth, the book offers proven techniques for coping with labor pain without drugs, a discussion of the doctor or midwife’s role, and a look at the father’s responsibilities. Childbirth education should also include what to expect after the baby is born. Here are baby basics, such as how to bathe a newborn, how to get the little one to sleep, and tips for getting nursing off to a good start. Pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is a process of continuous learning and adjustment; Birthing From Within provides the necessary support and education to make each phase of birthing a rewarding experience.