Facing the polar forces of an epidemic of Cesarean sections and epidurals and home-like labor rooms, American birth is in transition. Caught between the most extreme medicalization - best seen in a Cesarean section rate of nearly 30 percent - and a rhetoric of women's "choices" and "the natural," women and their midwives, doulas, obstetricians, and nurses labor on. Laboring On offers the voices of all of these practitioners, all women trying to help women, as they struggle with this increasingly split vision of birth.
Updating Barbara Katz Rothman's now-classic In Labor, the first feminist sociological analysis of birth in the United States, Laboring On gives a comprehensive picture of the ever-changing American birth practices and often conflicting visions of birth practitioners. The authors deftly weave compelling accounts of birth work, by midwives, doulas, obstetricians, and nurses, into the larger sociohistorical context of health care practices and activism and offer provocative arguments about the current state of affairs and the future of birth in America.
About the Author
Wendy Simonds is Associate Professor of Sociology at Georgia State University. She is author of Abortion at Work and Women and Self-Help Culture; and co-author with Barbara Katz Rothman of Centuries of Solace.
Barbara Katz Rothman, Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York, is author of many works on motherhood-related issues, including In Labor: Women and Power in the Birthplace; The Tentative Pregnancy; Recreating Motherhood; The Book of Life, and Weaving a Family.
Bari Meltzer Norman received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and her B.A. in sociology, magna cum laude, from Barnard College. She lives in Miami.
Table of Contents
I. Laboring in Transition 1. Laboring Then: The Political History of Maternity Care in the United States 2. Laboring Now: Current Cultural Constructions of Pregnancy, Birth, and Mothering II. Midwives in Transition 3. Becoming a Midwife: Varieties of Inspiration 4. Birth Matters: Practicing Midwifery III. Disorganized Labor 5. Women in White: Obstetricians and Labor and Delivery Nurses 6. The New Arrival: Labor Doulas and the Fragmentation of Midwifery and Caregiving