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Community Reads

Community Reads are partnerships between Eccles Health Sciences Library and the Office of Health Equity. Diversity & Inclusion (UHealth OHEDI).

The Book

About the Authors


Chinyere Oparah began her tenure as Provost and Dean of the Faculty on January 1, 2017, after serving for almost twenty years on the Mills College faculty. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, raised in the South of England and with roots in SE Nigeria, Oparah’s educational background includes the study of languages, literature, philosophy, sociology, ethnic studies and community development. She received her BA and MA in modern and medieval languages from Cambridge University, Postgraduate Diploma in community practice from Luton University, MA in race and ethnic studies from Warwick University, and PhD in sociology with a focus on black women’s civic engagement from Warwick University.

Helen Arega is a traditional birth attendant, activist, and educator. She is a member of Black Women Birthing Justice and currently serves as the Roots of Labor Doula Coordinator. Helen was born in Ethiopia and immigrated to the US when she was 4 yrs. old. While she has spent most of her life in US she is very passionate about birth justice issues on a global scale, specifically in Afrika. She describes herself as calm, passionate, reliable, and organized. Sending love and light!

Dantia Hudson is a Birth and Postpartum Doula, Breastfeeding Educator, and Yoga Instructor. She attended UC Berkeley for her undergraduate degree where she majored in Sociology and received a Masters in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health from Boston University. She works as a public health researcher focusing on improving health outcomes for all communities and teaches an undergraduate public health course at Mills College. She is a member of the Black Women’s Birthing Justice and a BirthWays Board Member. Dantia enjoys arts and crafts projects in her spare time and loves spending time outside in the California sun; she resides in Oakland.

Linda Jones (formerly Jones-Mixon) is a Birth and Postpartum Doula and mother of two who lives in Oakland, CA. She founded and owned Waddle and Swaddle Baby Boutique and Resource Center in Berkeley, CA and has been a part of the natural birth advocacy community in the Bay Area for over two decades. She belongs to Sistahs of the Good Birth, a group of Black Doulas who work with low income mothers. She was one of the founders of a volunteer Doula group that provided services for low income, uninsured and teen moms that birthed at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley.

Talita Oseguera is a doula and a student in the University of California San Diego's nursing and midwifery program.



Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Noon - 1:00 PM

EHSL Lower Level


Amir Lueth Chapters 1 - 4

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Noon - 1:00 PM

EHSL Lower Level


Dr. Tiana Rogers Chapters 5 - 6

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Noon - 1:00 PM

EHSL Lower Level


TBD Chapter 7

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Noon - 1:00 PM

EHSL Lower Level


TBD Chapters 8 - 9

Table of Contents

Foreword and Acknowledgements

  1. Executive Summary

  2. Overview and Methods

    1. 2.1  History and Methodology

    2. 2.2  A Note on Language

    3. 2.3  The Context: Racial Disparities in Maternal Health Care

    4. 2.4  Initiatives to Improve Maternal Health in California

  3. A Human Rights Framework

  4. Prenatal Care

4.1 Experiences of Prenatal Care

4.2 Barriers to Prenatal Care: Health Insurance
4.3 Barriers to Prenatal Care: Relationships with Medical Practitioners 4.4 Lack of Culturally-Competent Care and Distrust of Medical Advice 4.5 Stress, Pregnancy and the “Strong Black Woman” syndrome
4.6 Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Resiliency
4.7 Midwifery Model of Care

Characteristics of Midwifery Prenatal Care Obstacles to Midwifery Care
Race, Midwifery and Midwives of Color

4.8 Conclusions

5. Relationship with Maternal Health Care Providers

5.1  Characteristics of Positive Relationships

Emotional and psychological support
Respect for the pregnant individuals’ values, beliefs and choices Competency and effectiveness

5.2  Characteristics of Negative Relationships
Refusal to listen to women’s wisdom about their bodies
Not respecting women’s boundaries or bodily autonomy Stereotyping based on race, class, age, sexuality and marital status Suppressing advocacy and self-advocacy

5.3  Conclusions

6. Home, Hospital or Birth Center?

6.1  Choosing Hospital Birth

6.2  Negative Beliefs about Hospital Birth

6.3  Home Birth: Perceptions and Obstacles

6.4  Experiences of Home Birth

6.5  Birth Centers

6.6  Is Hospital Birth Safer?

7. Labor, Birthing and Delivery

7.1  Disproportionate Mortality and The Culture of Fear

7.2  Attitudes Toward Physiologic or “Natural” Birth

7.3  The Birth Plan

7.4  Due Dates and Labor Induction

Pitocin: The “Devil’s Juice”?

Alternative Labor Induction

7.5  Managing Labor Pain

“Pain with a Purpose”: Attitudes Toward Labor Pain Strategies for Dealing with Labor Pain

7.6  Doula Care and Comfort Measures

7.7  Pain Medications

7.8  Cesarean Delivery

The Overuse of Cesareans
Cesarean for Complicated Labor Recovery and Bonding after Cesarean

8. The First Six Weeks

8.1  Between Isolation and Tradition: Postpartum Recovery

8.2  Postpartum Dif culties

Physical recovery

Mental and Emotional Challenges

Systemic Racism-Sexism and Economic Injustice

8.3  Breastfeeding: Attitudes, Barriers and Motivations

Participants Attitudes toward Breastfeeding

Community Attitudes towards Breastfeeding

Motivations for Breastfeeding

8.4  Conclusions

9. Recommendations

About and By the Authors

Resources Referenced in the Bibliographies

Author - Nadia Sabry

Editor - Joan Gregory