Empowering Pregnant Women

CVS animated GIF “There was a time when the pregnant woman stood as a symbol of stately and sexual beauty. While pregnancy remains an object of fascination, our own culture harshly separates pregnancy from sexuality. The dominant culture defines feminine beauty as slim and shapely. The pregnant woman is often not looked upon as sexually active or desirable, even though her own desires and sensitivity may have increased. Her male partner, if she has one, may decline to share in her sexuality, and her physician may advise her to restrict her sexual activity. To the degree that a woman derives a sense of self-worth from looking ‘sexy’ in the manner promoted by dominant cultural images, she may experience her pregnant body as being pregnant and alien” (53).
Iris Marion Young, “Pregnant Embodiment” Continue reading

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 www.merrilchildbirthservices.com 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.