The Research Team

nicoleNicole Heidbreder, RN is a  DONA International approved Birth Doula Trainer, a lactation counselor, a DONA International trained labor and postpartum doula, and a Lamaze childbirth educator.  She was the Director of International Development at DONA International from 2008 – 2011 and a member of the New Leadership Council for the International Women’s Health Coalition. Prior to her maternal health career, Nicole received her MA from New York University and her BA from the University of Illinois, where she was a Ford Foundation Scholar. She spent several years working for arts and social justice nonprofits before attending her first birth in tsunami-stricken Sumatra. Since then she has attended births all over America, as well as in Bali and Uganda. Nicole obtained her nursing degree at Georgetown University and presently works as a nurse in the Emergency Department of Georgetown University Hospital. She intends to use the research from this survey to write about how labor and delivery nurses prioritize breastfeeding initiation and the additional tasks nurses are charged with completing immediately after delivery of a baby.  Additionally, she will look at the work of doulas and childbirth educators and how it relates to having a professional career.

meganMegan M. Henley is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Arizona. She earned her B.A. in Sociology at the University of California, Irvine in 2007 and her M.A. in Sociology at the University of Arizona in 2010.  Her research interests include gender, reproduction, medical sociology, and the sociology of knowledge.  Her dissertation research focuses on doula work and alternative knowledge.  She is using data from this survey in addition to interviews with doulas and mothers to look at the roles that certification, science, and personal experiences or philosophies play in doulas’ attitudes and approaches to childbirth and to doula work itself.

marlaMarla Marek, PhD, RNC is an Assistant Professor at California State University, Stanislaus in the rural central valley of California. She received her Associates Degree in Nursing in 1984, her Bachelor’s in Science Nursing in 1993, her Master’s in Science Nursing in 2002, and her PhD from the University of California, San Francisco. She is currently employed as a labor and delivery nurse and has worked with women during birth for 27 years. Her research interests include labor and delivery nurse attitudes toward termination of pregnancy (2004) and perinatal bereavement. Her dissertation research is focused on cultural differences in perinatal loss with Latino family members. Her research methodologies are qualitative grounded theory. For the current study, she is focusing on the differences in attitudes and possible conflicts between labor and delivery nurses and Doulas.

ChristineMorton smallChristine H. Morton, PhD is a research sociologist.  Her research and publications have focused on women’s reproductive experiences and maternity care advocacy roles, including the doula and childbirth educator. She is the founder of an online listserve for social scientists studying reproduction,, with more than 300 subscribers.   Since 2008, she has been at Stanford University’s California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, an organization working to improve maternal quality care and reduce preventable maternal death and injury.  Her current research interests include maternal mortality, maternity care advocacy and quality improvement in the U.S.

louiseLouise Marie Roth, PhD is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Arizona. Her primary research interests are gender, family, organizations, and law. Her earlier work analyzed gender inequality on Wall Street, and publications from this research include Selling Women Short: Gender Inequality on Wall Street (2006).  Her current research examines institutional influences on reproduction and childbirth, especially the effects of health insurance and medical malpractice, using quantitative data on cesarean sections and interviews with medical and legal practitioners.

Miriam Naiman-Sessions, PhD is a Maternal and Child Health Epidemiologist at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Her work involves collecting, analyzing, and reporting evidence-based home visiting data. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Arizona in 2007 and earned her PhD in Sociology from Florida State University in 2013. Her dissertation examined the associations between maternity care practices and women’s emotional well-being during labor. Miriam’s research interests include the impact of hospital policies and nurse’s caseload on incidence rates of emotional burnout and medical errors among labor and delivery nurses.

Slide1Jennifer M. C. Torres is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Michigan. She received her BS in Psychology from Michigan State University in 2002 and her MA in Sociology from the University of Michigan in 2009. Her dissertation research focuses on the professionalization of social support in childbirth and breastfeeding, with a focus on doulas and lactation consultants. She will use data from this survey to examine doula work as a career, and to assess breastfeeding knowledge and attitudes among doulas, childbirth educators, and labor and delivery nurses.

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