Dana Raphael

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Dana Louise Raphael (January 5, 1926 – February 2, 2016) was an American medical anthropologist. She was a strong advocate of breastfeeding and promoted the movement to recruit non-medical care-givers to assist mothers during and after childbirth. She called such care-givers "doulas."[1] The term "doula" (pronounced do͞olə; from Ancient Greek δούλη, a serving woman) was popularized in her 1976 book "The Tender Gift: Breastfeeding."[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Dana Louise Raphael was born in New Britain, Connecticut, on January 5, 1926, the daughter of Louis Raphael, who owned a department store chain, and the former Naomi Kaplan.[1]


Raphael received her bachelor's degree and Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University in New York City.[1] Having avoided a conventional wedding and refused to take her husband's name (unusual in the 1950s), she rejected the common practise of bottle-feeding, but had difficulty breastfeeding her first-born son.[3] She learned the word "doula" from a woman in Greece who told her that it fitted the role that Raphael was describing to her of a woman who helps a nursing mother by taking on other work in the home; Raphael then used the term in her 1966 dissertation on cross-cultural practices of breast-feeding[3] before making the term more public in a magazine article in 1969.[1] She gave it more widespread currency in "The Tender Gift: Breastfeeding" in 1976.[2]

In 1975, Dana Raphael, together with Margaret Mead, founded The Human Lactation Center, an institute devoted to researching patterns of lactation worldwide.[4] Dana Raphael was married to Howard Boone Jacobson, with whom she had three children.[4]

Dana Raphael died of complications arising from congestive heart failure on 2 February 2016 at her home in Fairfield, Connecticut.[1]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Raphael, Dana (1975). Being female : reproduction, power, and change. The Hague: Mouton. ISBN 978-0202011516.
  • Raphael, Dana (1976). The Tender Gift: Breastfeeding. New York: Schocken Books. ISBN 978-0805205190.
  • Raphael, Dana, ed. (1979). Breastfeeding and food policy in a hungry world. New York: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0125809504.
  • Raphael, Dana; Davies, Flora (1985). Only mothers know : patterns of infant feeding in traditional cultures. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0313245411.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Roberts, Sam (February 19, 2016). "Dana Raphael, Proponent of Breast-Feeding and Use of Doulas, Dies at 90". New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Raphael, Dana (1976). The Tender Gift: Breastfeeding. New York: Schocken Books. ISBN 978-0805205190.
  3. ^ a b Jones, Maggie (December 21, 2016). "The lives they lived: Dana Raphael". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "The United States Club of Rome - Biographies".