Doula During Childbirth


On October 20, 2014 Merril Durham came into our class and talked to all of us about childbirth. So why does childbirth matter? It matters because we all were born. Merril has a one year old child and thought it was the coolest experience she has ever went through. For about an hour Merril talked and presented what to expect when that time comes.

Merril is a doula, which she refers it to as “Keeper of the Space”. The word comes from the ancient Greek meaning female bondservant. It was coined in 1970 and was first used by DONA. A doula provides continuous physical, emotional, and intellectual support for a mother before during and after childbirth. Now after you here that it might sound like a midwife . A midwife is the mother’s care provider and a doula provides physical and emotional support during childbirth and gives the mother tools and knowledge they need to make informed decisions during childbirth. A doula is not a medical profession but more is a supporter during and after birth. “Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily” (DONA). Doula understands the physiology of birth and emotional needs of a woman in labor and is there for the mother to do as she says, for her best interest. Merril as a doula tells us her experience that she has gone through and what she hears and sees throughout childbirth. The pictures below show her doing her job as a doula and also after she had birth herself having her first daughter.

Having experienced birth she was excited to share her experience with others so they could empower birth. She became a doula because she witnessed her best friends home birth and it changed her life forever. It made her realize how normal and natural birth can be. After that Merril took two years learning all he needed to become a doula. Empowering birth is the way to go and noticing your body will take care of it all. Having a birth doula gives a lot of support, encouragement and reassurance and helps achieve a beautiful birth experience.


One thing that Merril talks about is elements portrayed in media about childbirth. Media gives a image and noises that sound and look like the women are in fear, pain, danger or the graphics are gross. However birth is inherently non of these characteristics. Merril put up a quote up from Alice Projansky talk about the birth culture. “We have ideas about what women’s bodies are for and it’s not this,” she said about American views on birth. “You see a woman naked but her body is performing functions that are intense. Our culture has a weird thing about images of women’s bodies doing this kind of physical work that isn’t young and sexy; birth has elements of struggle, power, transformation and mortality that don’t fit with our ideas about women’s bodies: they’re ok to look at when they’re sexy but when they’re working it’s something else. Birth is uncontrolled and that freaks us out.”

Our society has a tough time looking at childbirth and fears tocophobia, which is the fear of pregnancy and childbirth, has common fears such as poopin, tearing, blood, pain, nudity, not having control, or even death leading into pregnancy. Their should be no fear in pregnancy it is a natural event.

Childbirth has changed in many ways due to all the resources and technology we have these days. In 1900 only 5% of births were done in hospitals, in 1940- 50% were done in hospitals, 1960 there were 97% done in hospitals and as of today 98.5% of births are done in hospitals. Also as of today the average vaginal delivery is $20,000 and the average C-section is $30,000. Today homebirths are becoming a little more popular having it only cost $3500 for birth. Merril talked about her homebirth that she had and she was in labor for three days and her nurse told her if she wasn’t having her baby in the next six hours she will have to go to the hospital and give birth their and when she finally relaxed and realized that her body will do the job of having the baby, her daughter finally came out of her and it was the coolest most memorable experience Merril has ever had. It was awesome to hear all of Merril stories including her own. I got the chance to speak to her after class and was so nice to answer all my questions and handed me her card telling me if I had anymore question that she would be honored to answer. You could contact her on if you have any questions. After reading this would you consider Merril Durham as a doula of your own someday? The picture below shows why overall why you should hire a doula if you need one.






Back Door: Open or Closed?

Simon Hardy describes “Phallic Sexuality” as “the dominant way of doing and thinking about sexuality in modern Western Culture”; this form of sexuality “centers the penis and its penetrative role in coital intercourse”. It is also “patriarchal because the act of intercourse is understood in terms of an anatomical dichotomy in which the penis is seen as active and the vagina is seen as passive”; therefore, the male partner is superior to the female partner who is inferior (107). Recently anal sex has been included in this phallic sex model when the anus has become the substitute for the passive vagina. Although the male is seen as superior, in such cases of male-to-male anal sex, some men came can take on the inferior role. Hardy’s article looks at how anal sex can be encountered in a variety of guises: as a method of contraception, as a health risk, as a heterosexual substitute, as a perversion, as a routine variation of sexual repertoire, as a special/ultimate intimacy, as a fashionable theme of cultural representation, as an obligatory pornographic number, and as an act of phallic domination (107). I will dissect the method of contraception, the health risks, the heterosexual substitute, the routine variation, and as a fashionable theme.

The method of contraception focuses on how females cannot get pregnant form anal sex. It states that anal sex is practiced as a practical method of contraception by heterosexual couples where anal sex is a direct substitute for “regular” vaginal intercourse. While, this might help the pregnancy rate, it sure does not help the STD/HIV percentages. Maybe not in America as much, but this has been cited by public health agencies in Africa that this is a possible contributing factor to the rapid spread of HIV infections. This could be because since they know they cannot get pregnant from anal sex, they chose not to protect themselves with condoms, therefore exposing them for chance of disease (107).

This leads into how anal intercourse is heavily associated with a number of health issues. In addition it is above all the potential for the sexual transition of HIV infection. This can be seen in the down low community. The Centers of Disease Control released in 2001 estimated that 30 percent of black men where infected with HIV. Of these men, majority of them had had anal intercourse with other men (Hoy 380). This is the practice of “barebacking”: where young gay men have unprotected anal intercourse leaving them for a high chance of being infected (107).

This is a picture of gay porn star Rod Daily who is infected with HIV from having unprotected sex with men.

In is stated that a lot of the men who do gay porn are not really “gay”, but instead they are “gay-for-pay.” This means that they just get into gay porn because of the money they get in return. Do you buy this statement? Why or why not?

Next, is a heterosexual substitute; this focuses mainly on male inmates in prison where male-to-male penetration can substitute vaginal penetration, not for the purpose of not trying to get pregnant like purposes of contraception, but because of the absence of women (108). John Gagnon and William Simon’s classic study of the sexual conduct of the prisoners showed that this “homosexual” acts where between “straight” men. They where not doing so to release their sexual tension but instead to affirm their masculine identity. In prison the performance of sex act is the key of demonstrating a powerful, commanding masculinity. Their masculinity depends more on the roles they take on during sex rather than their actual sexual partner; masculinity is affirmed by anally penetrating (108).

In the movie Lockdown, the character Dre experiences this as soon as he gets to prison. Just shortly after meeting her cellmate, Graffiti, Dre is raped as takes on the passive role in the male-to-male intercourse while Graffiti affirms his masculinity by being the one who does the anal penetration. Below is the scene from the movie:

We can now look at anal sex as a routine variation of the sexual repertoire. In long-term relationships, anal sex brings the erotic force of norm violation to bear as a routine variation, so basically it’s the next step to improve you relationship sexually. Gagnon and Simon’s research on heterosexual couples show that as relationships become more established, anal intercourse was one of the number of variations that is gradually integrated (109). This usually starts by the male partner’s use of his fingers followed by increasingly attempts to penetrate. The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles found that the proportion of men that have experienced anal sex in the past year has risen from 7 percent in 1990 to 12.3 percent in 2000 (109). The proportion of women had increased from 6.5 percent to 11.3 percent over the same about of time.

With support form the figures above, you can see that anal sex has become a fashionable theme of cultural representation. More and more teenagers are not adding anal sex to their daily sex talks. They say that anal sex is the only kind of sex that people are interested in now (109). It is definitely safe to say that anal sex has come from out the closet and hit the cultural mainstream hard. A lot of this has to do with everyone’s obsession with the ass in general. The ass has surly become a symbol for a new cult of voluptuous sensuality (109).

In conclusion, by dissecting anal sex as a method of contraception, a health risks, a heterosexual substitute, a routine variation, and as a fashionable theme we can attempt to imagine anal sex through various lens. On one had the gay practice of reciprocal anal penetration has been seen as de-centering the phallus has been the heart of normative sexuality; while on the other hand, in the heterosexual mainstream erotic imagination anal sex remains as an act generally understood in terms of a symbolic power relation (111).