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Radical Doula Profiles: Cara Del Favero

December 3, 2014

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!

About Cara: Full spectrum (certified) birth doula, OSHA Certified placenta encapsulation specialist, childbirth educator, Certified Lactation Counselor and Certified Postpartum Doula. Serving the Albany, NY and Capital Region areas. Visit http://thealbanydoula.com or call (518)542-5475 for more information.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I identify as VERY pro-choice in my political views, however once I became pregnant, I realized that I also found the idea that pregnant people deserved the right to their own bodily autonomy during childbirth to be integral.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I identify as queer when it comes to my personal life, which allows me to gain a wider understanding of the specific needs that people have in the birth community. I have done plenty of research and reading to educate myself on the notion of white privilege and being a “placeholder” for those from marginalized groups. I acknowledge my privilege and work hard to help support the community in making new connections and changing traditional belief systems that may be harmful to some families.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
My favorite thing about being a doula, which took me a long time to figure out, is knowing just how NOT about me childbirth is. I realized that birth is an intimate and very personal situation for all families and I learned just how important it is to meet people where they’re at and not where I would “want” them to be. My choices may not be yours and I completely love and respect that.

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, I would let all birthing people know that they have options. I would make sure that they have all the resources available to them to learn about the choices they have available to them without having to face social or economic barriers to this information.


Radical Doula Profiles: Anna Berger

November 26, 2014

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!

About Anna: I’m a DONA International-certified birth doula and CAnna outside, wearing jeans and a black jacketAPPA-trained prenatal educator working in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I holds a BA in political theory from Northern Illinois University and a Master’s in Library Science focused on community information resources for youth and families from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

As a doula, I dedicate my practice to assisting families as they prepare for their birth via education and emotional support, offering evidence-based information throughout the planning process and helping to explain the various changes and concerns many families face during the birthing year. In addition to my own support in pregnancy, labour, and the early postpartum period, I strive to help families find ways to connect with their communities for support and companionship as they enter a new stage of their lives.

For more information or to get in touch, you can find me at www.midtowndoula.ca.

What inspired you to become a doula?
The combination of my education background, professional experience in undergraduate student affairs, education, and community library services, and the process of immigrating to Canada in 2011, I came to realize how difficult it can be to transition into a new life in a culture where our local community connections have taken such a hit, and I began working toward becoming a resource for members of my community who might find themselves disconnected or lacking in support. I quickly found that new parents and young families, especially those who come to this tremendously diverse city from other parts of the country and around the world, are among those who most struggle to find connection and the tools they need to find and engage with others who share their stories.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
In a way, I think most doulas are a bit radical–we are working hard on a movement toward a colossal change in the way our culture approaches birth, moving from the expectation that pregnant people will take directions toward the expectation that they will make choices for themselves that must be respected and informed.

Additionally, however, I am pro-choice and strive for an inclusive practice that is welcoming and embracing of diverse families and experiences. As a member of the LGBTQ community, I know how difficult it can be to find providers and support people who do more than pay lip service to inclusive work. I do everything I can to make sure not only my practice but the resources I share and the referrals I offer are the most inclusive I can find.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
My philosophy as a doula is that every family should have support for their reproductive choices, regardless of what they might be, and it really ends there. I strive to be a source of reliable, balanced information and support, whom people can approach without fear of judgment or discomfort, and do everything I can to be someone you can trust to help you follow through on individual decisions once you’ve made them.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
In the grand scheme, I love being the link between people. When I can connect someone with another person and know they’ll find the support they need in one another, I know I’ve done my job well and met my personal and professional goals.

In a more specific sense, I absolutely love seeing the sun rise after an overnight labour, whether it’s the first sunrise we’ve shared or the second. I’ve seen them in all seasons and from many different parts of my city, and it feels powerful and magical every time. I’ve always loved mornings, but my appreciation for them has grown immensely since I started this work.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I would love to see a cultural shift in the way pregnancy information is presented. Although I know most of the information sources need to be approachable enough for a wide range of educational backgrounds, I wish more of our resources shared the information to help families make informed decisions rather than simply telling them what will happen at various stages in the pregnancy and birth process. It’s sometimes a subtle difference, but I think it’s so, so important.

I would also like to see a greater focus on informed choice (which to me implies a fairly even balance between the right to consent and the right to refuse) and informed consent (which makes informed refusal feel heavily discouraged). Again a sometimes subtle difference in terms of outcomes, but not such a subtle difference in approach.

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Radical Doula Profiles: Joey Larson

November 19, 2014

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!

Picture of Joey Larson holding a newbornAbout Joey: Birth has become a passion in my life, the rights for woman and how she is treated before, during, and after birth should make her feel no less than honored and treasured. My mom taught me compassion, choice, love and support are so important in a woman’s life..and behold a doula was born…The idea of birth makes me cry and the truth is it is a true MIRACLE. Working with my many types of families and situations has opened my eyes and appreciation to different cultures and customs of birth. I am in awe how birth changes yet stays the same all over the world. It truly is a universal miracle. I live in Minnesota. Contact: birthingmiracles.yolasite.com or birthingmiracles.jl@gmail.com.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I was so lucky to be chosen by God to be birthed in to a family with a mother who loved the miracle of what birth was..I always worked and loved the babies and mama’s..My mom taught me compassion, choice, love and support are so important in a woman’s life..and behold a doula was born…The idea of birth makes me cry and the truth is it is a true MIRACLE.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I believe a woman should have rights, rights to her body during pregnancy. She should choose when and where she births. A woman should have the right to decide what she puts in her body and her babies body during and after birth. A woman should not have a stereotype because of how she births or what she chooses in the birthing process. Birth is a miracle and should be treated no less than of which it truly is.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
My doula philosophy is a woman should have the birth she chooses. She should have many choices. I believe that to have a great birth you need to treasure a woman in all areas, like emotional, physical and spiritual. To teach her to advocate and give her a voice. I also let women know they can interview, fire, and change at any point in their birth.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I would say my favorite thing is watching the transformation from a woman to a mother and when a partner’s face changes when they see the picture of LOVE in their new baby or babies. I love holding a space and having a women feel treasured. I also think a great birth is the partner feeling empowered and supported as well.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
CHOICES.. lots and less judgement.


Radical Doula Profiles: Natasha Crouch

November 12, 2014

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!

Natasha Crouch smiling in black and whiteNatasha Crouch is a certifying doula working with Full Spectrum Doulas and Birth Arts International in Seattle Washington. She has a background in sexual education, women’s & men’s empowerment and a passion for helping women and families feel safe and strong in the decisions regarding their bodies and minds. She can be contacted through her website.

What inspired you to become a doula?
There are layers of things that inspired me to walk this path, when I was 16 I had a late term miscarriage and had an incredibly impossible time finding information or support for myself – or later for and with other women going through the complex emotions of a miscarriage or abortion. I held hands of very amazing friends during their labor and discovered that there was a gap in the professional care provided by hospitals. Wanting to help fill that gap is what really lead me here, for the full spectrum of care – offered to all women – because care and information should not be so difficult to come by.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I identify with the term because I believe care should be accessible by all people of all walks of life. I strive to work with women and families with trauma in their backgrounds, anxiety, depression and other mental complexities. I work both within my community (both LGBT and Polyamourous families) as well as outside of my family (anyone) needing non-judgmental and understanding support. My motto in life has always been that I cannot judge what I do not know – so I work to help people transition during the many walks of life. No one should ever feel alone. No one should be denied support when they need it.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I believe that support should be readily available as families and individuals need it, I am committed to providing evidence-based, Mother/Family-friendly, non-judgmental Full Spectrum Doula services. With the core belief that each of these essential experiences are as unique as the individual. While birth, life and death cannot be something we control – that is what makes our stories unique. That uniqueness is what defines and excites the world. Providing support and education through birth, miscarriage, abortion, adoption and any other major transition is a gigantic passion of mine.

Politically I feel the same; we should not allow others to take away our power, we should not step on the heads of our fellow humans in order to gain our own prosperity. Unity and strength in community is what keeps us whole and gives us strength. Information and Education gives us the power of choice and choice is one of the most essential keys to life. To take away someones choice and make them feel powerless – is a deep and terrible crime.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
This varies, I love the moment in birth when the family becomes a family – that moment of understanding on a primal level that life has happened and that that moment brings unity to the individuals in the room. The primal strength of a mother embracing herself and finding peace and wisdom in the birth space – that deep trust that can happen in a safe and ideal birth setting.

Overall though – its seeing the moment when the peace that trusting ‘your’ body, ‘your’ decisions and the moment – when I see that in a room with a woman/mother/family – no matter what the path is – that’s the most amazing thing in the world.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I would remove the fear and dis-information, I would push more medical facilities and popular media sources to not rely on fear mongering and judgement to inform people – but allow the space for people to be fully informed and the empowerment to make their own decisions and not feel as though they had no control.


Radical Doula Profiles: Stephanie Gentry-Fernandez

August 29, 2014

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!

Stephanie smiling in black tank top

Stephanie Gentry-Fernandez is a bilingual (Spanish/English) ICTC-certified Full Circle Doula. As a registered nurse, health educator, artist, and organizer, she has long advocated for the use of trauma-informed, holistic, and culturally sensitive frameworks that use harm reduction to be inclusive to all people seeking healthier lives. Using evidence-based practice, Stephanie incorporates emotional, spiritual, and physical support during pregnancies by honoring traditional birthing customs and promoting breastfeeding. Stephanie is a native life-long resident of Chicago’s South Side and is committed to providing services to all Chicago-area residents, particularly those living in the south side and south suburbs.

For the past 15 years, Stephanie has been a source of support to people in crisis through venues as diverse as juvenile detention centers, domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, homeless drop in centers, rape and domestic violence crisis hotlines, and community empowerment and faith-based organizations. Over the years, Stephanie has learned it is imperative to meet people where they are at, provide education and advocacy, and support their decisions in making healthier choices, which are all important components of harm reduction and trauma-informed frameworks.

Contact Stephanie at stephanie.gentry@gmail.com, or visit Stephanie’s website if you are interested in having her be your doula.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I have been supporting all kinds of people with their reproductive choices since high school, but it wasn’t until my nephew was born in 2011 that I realized how amazing witnessing childbirth is, and how my personality type can be supportive and useful for people laboring.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
As a native of the South Side of Chicago, ensuring people from my community also have access to doulas is in itself radical. I use gender-neutral language as much as possible as a nurse and as a doula, which is rare, especially in Labor&Delivery/prenatal care. I’m also deeply committed to supporting people’s choices when it comes to their health, pregnancy, termination, and safer sex options.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
My philosophy is to support people in their reproductive choices by educating, informing, and listening. All too often, people of color, women, transgender, genderqueer and queer people, low-income people, disabled people, people of size, and immigrants are informed by their providers how their plan of care will be rather than it being a mutual and informed decision among both patient and provider. I’m also deeply committed to normalizing birth and improving birth outcomes, particularly among Black/African-American communities. I find it interesting that while sterilization abuse is no longer the norm, C-sections increasingly are. At the same time, access to birth control seems to be decreased more every day. Child birth has become extremely pathologized, and I’m excited to be working at Illinois’ first stand-alone birthing center to continue normalizing childbirth and labor.

I truly believe everyone has the right to having their birth plan followed as much as humanly possible. Lastly, I also believe everyone should have access to organic food, holistic care, and indigenous birthing customs.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Seeing babies get born :)

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
The attitudes of nurses and providers in hospitals.


Radical Doula Profiles: Amy Haaf

June 4, 2014

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!

About Amy: Hi. My name is Amy. I’m a newly trained postpartum doula. I have three children ages 4, 16 and 18 years old. Besides being a busy mom and wife with children with a vastly varying age span. I am also passionate about many things such as breastfeeding and a positive birth experience for all women. I practice attachment parenting and believe in Waldorf and other natural teaching styles. I hold many hats as an elimination communication mentor through Diaper free Baby, a Certified Lactation Counselor and a WIC peer counselor. I practiced self weaning and baby led solids with all my children. I can be reached via email @ amysppdoula@aol.com. I am listed through Birth Columbia and also have an individual website. I also have a Facebook page called Amy’s Postpartum and Lactation Services. I offer a bevy of services to women through pregnancy as well as postpartum. Areas served: Columbia County, NY and Western MA.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I have always felt drawn to birth and motherhood. I enjoy being able to empower women through helping them before and after their babies are born. Working with families is what I have always liked doing. I had positive birth experiences and help after my first son was born. I feel that I would have benefited greatly from a postpartum doula after my second and third children were born.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I feel that even with my first child I was drawn to very natural approaches despite what my peers believed in. Even at twenty two as a mom I believed in natural parenting, breastfeeding, no pacifiers, no bottles, baby wearing, co sleeping, baby led solids, elimination communication and much more.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I believe in all woman having a positive birth experience and have been particularly following the prison birth project and the different states that are passing anti shackling laws. I am a very caring and non judgemental person, much like my political beliefs.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I enjoy helping whole families adapt and well one new babies into their families.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I think that women need to always remember that it is their birth and their baby. Practicing skin to skin after baby’s birth and to let baby’s natural instincts and bonds help her with breastfeeding and closeness. I would say that the moments and hours after birth need to be handled with the utmost respect with as little medical intervention ( unless faced with an emergency situation) as possible to let the fourth trimester unfold naturally to ensure mom, baby and family are savoring these precious moments as baby is introduced to the world outside mom’s womb.


Radical Doula Profiles: Kaity Molé

May 28, 2014

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!

Kaity wearing red shirt sitting in front of carAbout Kaity: Kaity sees herself today as a product of the struggle to accept and love despite the obstacles of conflict and despair. Kaity grew up as a military kid and moved around every 3 years, she doesn’t have roots and isn’t sure she wants them. She came face to face with numerous violent and abusive encounters throughout her life and has struggled deeply with depression, dissociation and the long path of healing from trauma. She speaks French and loves apples, safe spaces and her kooky queer community. She’s currently a nursing student at Hopkins in Baltimore, MD. She hopes to continue on to work in public health, nurse-midwifery and sexual assault/violence research. She’s learning to let the light in and to give back and pass onward all the good that comes her way.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I’ve always been interested in birth work, but probably in my late teens, as I was discovering feminism and intersectionality/race and class conflict in America and heard about being a doula, it seemed like such an important concept. Child-bearing people in America have a long history of being silenced and controlled. For there to be an advocate present, someone who can care for you and support you and help cultivate the space and experience you want for your birth…it sounds great! Haha. I wish I had a doula for everyday life….
I see it vitally important that all people feel safe, validated and cared for in their health experiences and like THEY are in control. I think that one of the biggest obstacles to good health and positive birth experiences is the wall that’s there between the medical institution and minority groups, whether it’s people of color, the poor, the queer or trans community etc.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I identify with the term radical doula because I see being a doula/birth and repro work as an inherently political thing. The ideas and practice surrounding birth work (and other care) in hospitals needs a massive overhaul and a healthy dose of patient empowerment. I believe in giving doula care with all intersections of people’s lives taken into account, particularly trauma history, race/experiences of racism, gender experiences, sexuality, orientation, ableism, self-concept etc. Everyone who gives birth is going to have a different experience that they’re bringing to the table, not everyone even identifies as a “woman”. These are really important things for doulas to be aware of and to nurture! As a queer birth worker with a long trauma history, I want to be a safe space for child-bearing people and to help empower them and amplify their voice in their experience.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
My doula philosophy definitely is grounded in empowerment. I kind of went into this above, but particularly with birth and the creation of another life: people should do whatever they want to do.  I’m pursuing nurse-midwifery licensure mainly for reasons of insurance/Medicaid covering CNMs and the populations that I want to be accessible to, but for larger issues of birth work/midwife licensure and legal restrictions put on childbearing people, I think it’s bullshit. People should give birth/not give birth/do whatever they want with their bodies! Medical control of all people and particularly marginalized bodies needs to STOP.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Oh man. I still get tripped out when I see that little baby head come out and I still get all the endorphins, which is pretty great. I generally love everything about birth work. But probably the relationship that I create with the people/families I work with, it’s really something special. To be involved in such an intimate event, you become spiritual family. When I leave I’m just so honored and thankful that I got to witness such amazing badassery.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
Definitely the limits and restrictions that are put on childbearing people. I would also really love to just annihilate all the crap that poor women, women of color and incarcerated women get for reproducing and how their motherhood and pregnant experience is shamed or devalued.


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