“Doulas as Witnesses to Obstetric Violence” In Obstetric Violence: Realities, and Resistance from Around the World

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Chapter in a Book

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What happens when the births we witness as doulas contradict the way birthing people experience them? And how does bearing witness to obstetric violence affect doulas? This chapter draws upon over a decade of experience as anthropologist doulas working in the Midwest region of the United States beginning in 2010. All participants were given pseudonyms to protect their identity. Data gathered for this project included field notes, journal entries, participant observation, interviews, and focus groups with twenty doulas. We use this data to unpack obstetric violence using an anthropological approach to doula care. We begin by underlining how we see an anthropological perspective connecting to doula work. Then we use an anthropological lens to analyze how doulas balance witnessing and reframing in situations of obstetric violence. We end with an assessment of the impact of obstetric violence on the future of doula care.