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Update on The Radical Doula Guide and an excerpt from the intro

It’s been a busy few weeks over here at Radical Doula HQ! Since launching the fundraiser for the Radical Doula Guide, I’ve been spending a lot of time promoting it and working on the actual guide itself. My goal is to get it printed by May of this year, so I’m speeding toward the finish.

Meanwhile, all of you amazing people have supported the fundraiser, and I reached my goal just halfway through the fundraiser! THANK YOU to everyone who has donated so far. I feel so loved and supported.

Although the donation price to pre-order a copy of the guide was $35, once it’s printed and the pre-orders are out the door, I’ll be selling it for around $10. So no fear if you haven’t donated, or can’t afford the $35. The fundraiser was a way to get support from those who could offer it, so that I could then sell the guide at a fraction of the cost of printing and design. Check back here in May for info about ordering the guide at the lower price.

There are still 9 days left to participate in the fundraiser, however, and I of course welcome the additional support! Any money that comes in above the cost of making the guide will go to offering copies of the guide to those who can’t afford even the $10 price.

As a thank you to everyone for supporting the fundraiser, I’m including an excerpt from the working introduction to the guide. It’s still in draft form, but after the jump is the section entitled “Why this guide?”

Also, apologies for not blogging more during these weeks, and to anyone who has emailed me and not received a response. I promise, I have not forgotten you! I will respond as soon as I can.

Why this guide?

When I began my doula journey over seven years ago, I knew very little about the world of childbirth. I had seen a documentary in a college class, Born in the USA, that opened my eyes to just how wrong our system of maternity care is. But my knowledge basically stopped there. I had worked with immigrant women, I had organized as part of the feminist and reproductive rights groups on my campus, so my politics went further. But the relationship between those politics and my future as a birth worker were extremely unclear.

My doula training was an amazing experience. I spent the weekend with an incredible group of women, learning about this amazing role of the doula. I remember the following Monday feeling simply alive with all that I had learned and with the experience of just being in a room with them for a few days. But as I began actually doing my doula work, I realized just how limited my training had been. I remember my trainer explaining in the context of the role of a doula, that a doula is not a translator. While I understood that philosophy in theory, in practice, as a spanish-speaking doula in a hospital setting where interpreters are only brought in (or, more often, pulled up on the phone) when there is paperwork to be signed, that advice did not serve me. This is just one example of where my training fell short.

As doula care becomes more popularized and more mainstream, the scope of our trainings get further and further specialized. The process when I began it five years ago was already bureaucratic and it has become more so as the time has passed. There are now separate trainings for birth doulas and postpartum doulas. Groups like The Doula Project have their own training for abortion doula care. Other groups that specialize in providing care to women who are incarcerated have their own trainings as well. It’s incredible that such a wealth of knowledge has been built around this role of the doula, but it means that new doulas often feel overwhelmed by the breadth of what there is to know, and unprepared by just a birth doula training.

There are also topics that are not part of the big doula organization’s curricula, but that are crucial components for many doulas. The expertise shared here has been compiled during my seven years as a doula, but in particular during that time managing the blog Radical Doula. I began the blog in 2007 as a way to finally make the connections between my politics and childbirth—connections that some told me were unusual. I wanted to talk about why I was pro-choice and a birth doula, why I was queer and gender non-conforming and a birth doula, why I was Latina and the child of immigrants and a doula. I wanted to document the ways in which all of these political perspectives actually went together and complimented one another. This is how Radical Doula came to be.

In the years since starting the blog, I’ve gotten hundreds of emails from new doulas, would-be doulas, people interested in becoming a doula. The answers to many of their questions are contained in this guide. I envision this guide not as a replacement to a doula training, to apprenticeship, to further reading and study into the art and practice of doula care. Instead this guide is a complement, a starting point, a resource for thinking about the many issues that interact with and surround our work as doulas. Many of these issues aren’t talked about in doula trainings and doula conferences, yet they are absolutely crucial to our work.

Excerpt from The Radical Doula Guide, forthcoming 

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