This book addresses the politics of global health and social justice issues around birth, focusing on dynamic communities that have chosen to speak truth to power by reforming dysfunctional health care systems or creating new ones outside the box.

The chapters present models of childbirth at extreme ends of a spectrum—from the conflict zones and disaster areas of Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, and Indonesia, to high-risk tertiary care settings in China, Canada, Australia, and Turkey. Debunking notions about best care, the volume illustrates how human rights in health care are on a collision course with global capitalism and offers a number of specific solutions to this ever-increasing problem.

This volume will be a valuable resource for scholars and students in anthropology, sociology, health, and midwifery, as well as for practitioners, policy makers, and organizations focused on birth or on social activism in any arena.

chapter |52 pages


Speaking truth to power for social justice in pregnancy and childbirth

part I|75 pages

Models speaking truth through independence

chapter 3|18 pages

Home-Based Lifesaving Skills

Working with local leaders and families to prevent maternal and perinatal mortality

part II|122 pages

Models that tackle threats to normal birth and human rights issues of access to care

chapter 4|14 pages

There’s Something Wrong Here

African-American pregnant women and their babies are at greatest risk in the USA

chapter 5|39 pages

Bringing Back Breech

Dismantling hierarchies and reskilling practitioners

chapter 6|21 pages

What Made her Think She Could Win in Court?

Models of success in seeking justice across cultures in a neoliberal world

chapter 8|22 pages

Changing Childbirth in China

Reclaiming midwives and family care

part III|73 pages

Models in troubled areas

chapter 9|13 pages

Implementing the International Childbirth Initiative (ICI) in Disaster Zones

Bumi Sehat’s experience in Indonesia, Haiti, the Philippines, and Nepal

chapter 10|19 pages

Israeli and Palestinian Midwives

Birthing peace together

chapter 11|28 pages

Are Top Down or Grassroots’ Solutions Better in Conflict Areas?

Two approaches to foreign aid in Afghanistan

chapter 12|11 pages

Three Generations of Rural Community Midwifery in the Philippines

Through war, earthquake, tsunami, and now a war on homebirth

part IV|78 pages

Pragmatic models

chapter 13|20 pages

Birth Models that Nurture Cooperation

Between traditionally competitive professionals: pizza and other keys to disarmament

chapter 15|14 pages

Where there are no Doctors

Task shifting of major surgical operations to non-physician clinicians (associate clinicians) for better perinatal outcomes in Tanzania and Mozambique

chapter 16|30 pages

Solitary and Kin-Assisted Rarámuri Birth

Ideals and realities

chapter |44 pages


Speaking truth to power individually and collectively will redistribute the power