Expectant parents use health communication messaging to make decisions about their childbirth plans. Recently, women have increasingly chosen to use doulas, or people who provide non-medical support during childbirth. This essay analyzes how a hospital designed public communication through promotional efforts regarding their no-cost, volunteer doula program. We use rhetorical analysis to analyze 19 promotional texts. By analyzing these materials through the rhetorical method of presence and absence, we found that the health discourse related to the doula program gave presence to expectant mothers. Additionally, the benefits of doulas, especially in relation to fathers or partners, remained absent in promoting the volunteer doula program. Through specific communication design recommendations, we focus on how to improve this communication to increase the use of doulas in our community, and in other communities. We conclude with implications and limitations of the study.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/rebecca-kuehl/1/