Know your history: Coercive sterilization of Latinas at L.A. County Hospital in the 70s

June 22, 2015

I think it’s really important for doulas, and activists, and birth workers to understand the social and political context of pregnancy and birth in the US. Clearly, I think it’s so important that I wrote a book about it.

A big piece of this history is understanding how the fertility of women of color, and low-income women, and immigrants, and those who are mentally-ill or incarcerated has been manipulated by government institutions, including hospitals.

I recently interviewed the director of a new documentary about one of these instances, where Latina immigrant women in a teaching hospital in Los Angeles were sterilized after c-sections without their full and proper consent. It’s a really heart-wrenching story, but also one of resilience and successful pushback–laws mandating informed consent for tubal ligations arose as a direct result of this situation.

You can read the full interview with the director over at Colorlines.


Radical Doula Profiles: Efe Osaren

April 22, 2015

This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Go here to provide your responses to the profile questions and I’ll include you!

Efe OsarenAbout Efe Osaren: Full spectrum prenatal and postpartum doula located in Houston, TX. I attended DONA international training workshop in Austin, TX. I am a native Houstonian and attended Alief district schools. I majored in Psychology in undergrad at a local university. I can be reached at eosaren@gmail.com

What inspired you to become a doula?
I was inspired to become a doula after attending my younger sisters birth and assisting a friend with her birth planning. Both of their birth story’s were normalized tragedies with forced and unnecessary interventions. The mothers had little to no say on medication choices, what tools they used or options to give birth in non doctor friendly positions. I was introduced into the world of birth justice and was advocating without permission before I even knew there was such a thing. As a Nigerian black feminist, I knew there was something wrong with the hospital system and I wasn’t comfortable with my ignorance of the the history behind it or how to manage it. After their births I decided to do some self education on the mistreatment of WOC and non POC women in the hospital system. I watched The Business of Being Born and was immediately inspired to become a doula/birth justice activist.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I identify with the term radical doula because I am a black feminist. I advocate for marginalized people and their intersections that are often ignored. Regardless of gender, class, sexual orientation, religions, race, disabled and mental illness. I also service those experiencing miscarriage, abortion, surrogacy and adoption.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
My doula philosophy is “Your birth, your choice”. My political beliefs are anything that dismantles all oppressive systems and to liberate those that suffer from it.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
My favorite thing about being a doula is being able to do my part to aide in my generation bringing political and social change to our society.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
If I could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth it would be creating a safe space that would bring more awareness to birth justice and holistic birth options.


Radical Doula Profiles: Franklinn Wilson

April 15, 2015

This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Go here to provide your responses to the profile questions and I’ll include you!

franklinnAbout Franklinn Wilson: I am a recently trained doula that identifies as queer and is looking to support families that vary from the norm. Single, poly, LGBTQ+, low income, and laboring people that are ultimately going to be giving their kids up for adoption. I was born and raised in San Diego county and will eventually be moving to the pacific north west. my email is franklinnhannah@gmail.com and my phone number is (619) 270 6856.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I felt that the care I had when I was pregnant and birthing was inadequate and I feel inclined to help other people have a better experience. I also see it as a way I can do more hands on activism. There are also no radical doulas in San Diego and I’m looking to help with starting a group of full spectrum doulas in my area.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I identify with the term radical doula because I identify with radical-ness in general in my life, I’m also queer as fuck. I think that the polarizing of holistic vs hospital care is awful and I’m out to change that.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I believe in informed consent, I believe people have a right to know what they are agreeing to and what their rights actually are in a hospital setting. I believe that everyone should have access to the support they deserve, not just white upper middle class women.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I love being connected with people in a magical way.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
The lack of collaboration between the midwife model of care and the typical model of care and the laboring person.


Last day to support my Radical Doula Guide reprint fundraiser & get your discounted copy!

April 8, 2015

I’m in the home stretch! It’s been a great campaign so far, and I’ve surpassed my original goal and am close to getting my stretch goal of $4K! That amount will allow me to print 2000 copies, meaning the book will stay in print for a good long while.

I’ve also already had 76 copies donated through the campaign, so I’m excited to be able to offer those to organizations and individuals in the future.

Screen shot 2015-04-08 at 10.56.54 AM

 

Campaign ends tonight around 2am ET, so now is your last chance to donate! A big THANK YOU to everyone who has donate so far.


Radical Doula Profiles: Tiffany Irvin

April 8, 2015

This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Go here to provide your responses to the profile questions and I’ll include you!

tiffanyirvinAbout: My name is Tiffany Irvin and I’m a proud doula, wife, Jacksonville native, and founder of Planted Seed Community Doula. I have 2 dogs and 4 cats, 20+ tattoos, purple hair (for the moment at least), a passion for music and art, reading, advocacy work, and a love for all things birth!

What inspired you to become a doula?
When my husband and I hired a local doula several years ago, we had no clue what we were doing. It ended up being the best decision for us because she ended up being extremely supportive and nurturing during our loss. Inspired, I immersed myself in the birth world, consuming books, movies, and anything I could get my hands on. I was already majoring in psychology, but I knew that my path was beginning to change. I still wanted to help others, but my method was morphing. After discussing with family and friends, I came to the realization that I belonged in the magical world of doulas.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I’ve been politically and socially active in terms of reproductive rights, LGBTQIA advocacy, and other social justice venues. I see how being a radical doula ties into advocacy and enjoy assisting my community with issues I’m passionate about.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I believe that all people deserve access to doula services, regardless of ability to pay, race, gender identity or sexual orientation, etc. Doulas should not be a luxury afforded to only those with privilege. I believe in equal rights and respect for all people and I don’t see why that should differ in how I practice as a doula.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I love the opportunity to experience life changing events with amazing people who are truly appreciative of your company, skills, and support. I also just really, really love babies.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?

The stunning lack of access to reproductive health services in this country saddens me. I feel so many would lead much more fulfilling, healthy, and positive pregnancies if we made this a priority.


Radical Doula Profiles: Nzingha Byrd

April 1, 2015

This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Go here to provide your responses to the profile questions and I’ll include you!

nzinghabyrdNzingha Byrd is a radical doula, childbirth educator, and lactation consultant located in the Cincinnati, OH area. Nzingha has been teaching the benefits of natural childbirth and breast feeding for over 8 years with a strong concentration in women of color and teen mother communities. Nzingha has partnered with many organizations to provide services and has attended countless births, in homes and hospitals. Feel free to contact Nzingha at sweetsistahsplash@yahoo.com, on Facebook, or by phone at 513.332.1575.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I began teaching pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting education and enrichment to teen parents at the same time I discovered I was pregnant with my first child. Spending over 40 hours a week talking to and educating first time moms was of great benefit to myself. The more I learned and shared, the more I embraced pregnancy and having the birthing experience of my dreams. It became my passion to support other women in having the birthing experience that they envisioned as well.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I identify with the term Radical Doula because birthing babies outside of the modern day Western society norm is radical. In this day in age it is radical, rebellious, even revolutionary for women to question birthing practices, to assert their personal wants and desires, to birth with out medication or within ones home. These things are radical but even more importantly – these things are empowering. I am called to be that support to empower women through their pregnancy, labor and delivery process in any way that I can.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I believe that Birthing should be left out of politics. I do not see it as a political debate or medical condition (of course there are special circumstances) but I believe that the body knows everything it needs to bring forth life. It is a natural thing. I think that it is a doulas job to prepare the mind for the birthing experience.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
My favorite part of being a doula is the childbirth education and preparation. I believe in this case knowledge is power and the more a mother knows, the less fear she has and the more determination she has to advocate for her self and her baby.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I would change the accessibility to Great Care for all women, that all women deserve and should be afforded regardless of race or income. That is not the case in particular communities and with particular populations. I believe all women should be treated with respect and supported in birthing the way of their choice. The support should not only come from doctors but the hospital and their policies, insurance companies, so forth and so on.


Radical Doula Profiles: Rose Wilder

March 30, 2015

This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Go here to provide your responses to the profile questions and I’ll include you!

photo 1About Rose Wilder: I am a queer, anarchist, feminist doula, midwife assist, street medic and herbalist. I got trained as a midwife in 2012 and have been doing birth, abortion and death work ever since. I am a Certified Professional Herbalist and am trained in a lot of old healing rituals around birth. Along with a few friends, I helped start and am currently helping run the Boulder Doula Project. I have experience assisting trans and gender queer people, adoption, unassisted birth, teen parents and many other things-everyone deserves nonjudgmental, compassionate care. I worked at a birth center in El Paso where I attended over 100 births and have been doing mostly home and hospital births since returning to Colorado. I love holding space for these powerful thresholds and being of service to people. Location: Denver/Boulder/surrounding mountains, CO.
Contact: partera.moon@gmail.com

What inspired you to become a doula?
I was in school to be an herbalist and felt the most inspired by the spaces of birth. I then went down to study to be a midwife in the desert and fell in love with birth and the powerful thresholds. When I came back, I was able to integrate abortion and death work as well as serving a wider population of people. I facilitate a lot of self-examination and care workshops for people with a cervix which I love. I feel passionate about protecting and supporting people in this space and in reclaiming their own healing and knowledge about their bodies.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
To say that these things are radical feels intrinsically silly to me, but I would consider myself radical because I am trying to address the hierarchical hetero normative health care system and put that power of healing and knowing and decisions back into the hands of the people. I am queer and anarchist and bilingual. I understand that not all pregnant people identify as women and that not all families are structured the same. I call myself radical because I have an intrinsic trust in the body, in these processes and in the wisdom woven in all of it. I call myself radical because i feel that everyone deserves competent, compassionate care regardless of race, sexual preference, gender identity, class, age or anything else.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
My doula philosophy is that everyone deserves good care, that I love supporting people no matter what and also a knowing that people are powerful and wise. I believe in people’s wisdom to make their own choices about their bodies and that my space in that is to give information when asked so that people can make informed decisions and support them in what they feel is right. I believe that holding each other in these spaces creates strong community and that everyone has the right to be held.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Ay all of it :) I love just being in spaces with people during such a powerful and beautiful transition. Birth makes me feel alive and providing support during abortions feels empowering to me.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I would probably elect to change the hierarchical proceedings of the hospital, to create a health care culture of consent based, informed, fair, compassionate care.


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