Welcome to Radical Doula

Hi! Thanks for visiting my website. Since February 2007 I’ve been maintaining this website and blog as a resource for doulas and other interested in the intersections between social justice and birth activism.

The blog part of this project isn’t as active these days, so I wanted to point you in a few directions in case you came here looking for resources.

You can read more about this project, and what I mean by “radical doula” here. You can learn more about me, my background, and my work here.

If you’re looking for advice about how to become a doula, check out this page. If you’re looking for volunteer doula organizations, go here. If you’re looking for organizations that train doulas, here.

If you’re looking for info about the book I published, The Radical Doula Guide: A Political Primer for Full-Spectrum Pregnancy and Childbirth Support, go here.

If you are here because you are looking for a doula, this post has some advice for your search.

You can check out all of the fabulous self-identified radical doulas that I’ve profiled over the years here. And if you identify with the term radical doula and want to be profiled, just go fill out this questionnaire and I will publish your responses.

If you’re looking to browse the blog, check out the sidebar (to the right, and down a bit) and click on any of the categories that interest you.

I also maintain a facebook page where I post regularly with things that I’m writing for Colorlines and elsewhere, but also other doula and birth activism related links and articles. Go here to like that page.

Lastly, I have a monthly email newsletter I send out, with links to what I’m writing and working on. You can sign up here.

Thank you for visiting, and for supporting this project over the years! If you have any questions you can’t get answered on this site, you can email me.

Radical Doula Profiles: Chelsea Duckworth

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 Chelsea Duckworth: I am working as a full spectrum doula in the Kansas City area. I have always had a passion for women’s rights and reproductive health and that interest led to me to a B.A. in Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies from Augsburg College. I also majored in Spanish and Fine arts and those played a huge role in my perspective on the courses I took and the world around me. I spent two years of my undergrad in Mexico and El Salvador and got to see first-hand the amazing impact that a group of supportive women can have on girls, new mothers, and surrounding communities. I was very drawn to the themes of gender roles and reproductive justice within social movements and finished out my time there in an internship at DDESER (Network for reproductive and sexual rights in Mexico). It was hard and amazing and I felt so enlivened by their work.  With that fire lit inside me, I returned to the U.S. and started volunteering for similar organizations. Contact: BirthSpaceKC.com BirthSpaceKC@gmail.com

What inspired you to become a doula?

My journey into the Doula began with a women’s biology class in college. This was where I first heard the word and felt drawn to all things birth. It wasn’t long after that I had two babies of my own and used doulas each time. Having their support was amazing and it became very clear that I wanted to provide this service to others. The doula world has felt like the perfect next step in living out my passion of helping women and families. to me, it is a wonderful continuation of reproductive justice. I have seen the power, determination, and potential of women shine when they have the right support. I have also seen their lives diminished and their voices stifled by limited choices, lack of support, and self-doubt. I believe that informed childbirth is just another key part of their reproductive journey and I am committed to providing evidence-based, mother-friendly birth services.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I have a complicated relationship with this word. On the one hand, I love that I can identify as radical, I am so proud to serve communities that are often overlooked and unsupported. To be part of a community of other people who also identify this way has also been the most amazing experience and I feel so privileged to know every single one of them. On the other hand, it is unfortunate that a belief in the importance of giving all people choices, education and equal care is still considered radical. This should absolutely be the norm and we just have so far to go before that is a reality.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
My philosophy is pretty straightforward- It is my job to hold space for clients, to bring them knowledge, support their choices, and empower them in their own unique path to building a family. Everyone deserves a safe, healthy, satisfying birth experience. I think this is just a mirror of my larger political beliefs. Everyone should have access to a good education, access to good healthcare and job opportunities. All of the things that are necessary for individuals to actually have a say in their how their lives play out. Everyone deserves a life and a community that is safe, healthy, and fulfilled.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I have a passion for working with families who are inhabiting this space of their life. It is such a beautiful and vulnerable time and making sure that they feel informed, empowered, and supported is incredibly important. I guess my favorite part would be the moment when a mother turns that corner into labor land and she gets into that amazing, instinctual rhythm that allows the body to progress and open. It is pretty powerful.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
It would have to be all of the judgement you see through the whole process. There is so much surrounding pregnancy, birth, and parenthood and it comes from all angles. How are parents supposed to feel confident in their choices when they have so many people telling them they are doing the wrong thing, or worse, that they are harming their child. You hear about all these “mommy wars” and every friend/parent/stranger has an opinion they think is the only way and it is just so overwhelming. I would really like to see everyone have the opportunity to get real, evidence-based pregnancy and parenthood information, receive equal care, and then have everyone just mind their own business.

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Radical Doula Profiles: Jordan Alam

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 Jordan Alam: I am a trained birth and postpartum doula serving the Seattle/King County metro area. I trained with Ancient Song Doula Services, an organization devoted to racial and economic justice in birth work. Birth and early parenthood is a powerful transition in the lives of my clients. My doula work focuses on returning power to my clients – regardless of their philosophies and choices around birth, I want all birthing people to be respected, supported, and fully informed about their options. I offer my services at flat rate and sliding scale; I also work with a local organization that offers free of cost doula services. You can find more info about my work at www.jordanalam.com/doula- services or by emailing me at jordanalam7201@gmail.com.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I have been supporting people through big life transitions, professionally and personally, for years. In college is where I found the language for what I had already been doing since middle and high school: supporting others through trauma. I built on these skills by working as a peer health educator and as a domestic violence advocate. When I came across the word “doula,” it really felt like it brought together all of the skills I had been cultivating for those past years – deep listening, advocacy, bringing comfort, etc. When I graduated and had some time on my hands, I went and did my training!

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
My doula work is committed to supporting those who are traditionally left out of conversations about their rights and choices around reproductive justice – especially women of color, trans and queer-identified people. I identify as queer, South Asian American, and Muslim, and these identities shape how I walk through the world. I have also worked as a domestic violence advocate and am working towards supporting people through adoption/all-options counseling. I consider my work “radical” because, although “radical” or “activist” work at large is perceived as protests and/or changing legislation, I believe that the emotional labor, relationship building, and advocacy are important (and overlooked) parts of justice work.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
When else are you able to be so present than when you are attending a labor? I am really attuned to my client and attuned to the energy of the room; I’ve described it that time slips through my fingers during those moments. I’m also just very curious and being a doula allows me a little window onto the experiences of others. I tend to be more of a listener and facilitator in my doula role, and I’m always delighted to see how others interact with this huge moment of change.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I would change the way that medical interventions are presented to clients in hospitals, particularly. My view is that clients can and should make decisions on their own about their care, but too often the options are presented in a way that doesn’t respect the client’s autonomy. For example, if a client is requesting an epidural, care providers should mention that it might slow down their labor – that should not be my role to explain! Additionally, I don’t believe that medical providers saying “you’re going to love this epidural” and other personal opinions allows the client their freedom of choice either. Since the majority of my clients of color are delivering in hospital, this is especially true of their experiences and unhelpful in context.

Radical Doula Profiles: Hannah Yore

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 Hannah Yore: I offer full spectrum, sliding scale services that include prenatal, labor, and postpartum support as well as miscarriage and abortion counseling in the New York City area. I am committed to providing advocacy and companionship to pregnant people throughout a range of reproductive experiences and support my clients holistically. I am associated with DONA International and NYC’s Healthy Women, Healthy Futures Initiative. In addition to my work as a doula, I also have experience conducting international women’s health research, advocacy, and case management services. For more information, please email me at hannaheyore@gmail.com.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I have worked for five years with reproductive justice and sexual health organizations domestically and internationally as an advocate, case manager, and researcher. I also served as a promotora’s assistant in The Dominican Republic, providing holistic healthcare services to individuals in their homes. Many of the individuals I worked with expressed anxiety over navigating pregnancy, abortion, and family planning. I decided that being a doula provided me another opportunity to both expand my knowledge around natural medicine and better support women during emotional and monumental periods in their lives.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
Personally, identifying as a radical doula means acknowledging the ways in which current socio-economic systems negatively affect the reproductive experiences of queer folks, women of color, and those living in poverty. Having a radical doula practice requires that I take into account how my clients’ histories and intersecting identities influence their feelings around and experiences of reproductive choice and agency.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I believe doulas must take into account their clients’ mental and social realities rather than strictly the physical components of reproduction. My doula practice is an extension of my political beliefs and work as an organizer and activist around issues of social justice. As a feminist socialist organizer and international reproductive justice practitioner, I am committed to mitigating the harmful affects for-profit medical industries have on socially and economically marginalized communities.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
My favorite thing about being a doula is having the opportunity to learn from my clients. I have been fortunate to bear witness to extraordinary moments of strength, vulnerability, and resilience and each women with whom I work helps enrich my philosophy as a doula and expand my knowledge around healing, medicine, and human connection.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
There are many issues surrounding pregnancy and birth, however, I would prioritize improving the relationship between individuals and their doctors. Unfortunately, pregnant folks are often left feeling confused and discouraged after medical appointments. I would like to see more culturally competent, individualized care models in hospital and OBGYN settings.

Radical Doula Profiles: Liz Trantanella

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 Liz Trantanella: I am a full spectrum birth and postpartum doula in Louisville, Kentucky.

What inspired you to become a doula?
My first inspiration was my own doula who came to support me as a volunteer. I was 42 weeks at that point and she really helped me navigate my options and supported me physically and mentally until the birth of my son. Since becoming a mother and involved in the birth community, serving others is my passion.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I support pregnant people on the spectrum of reproductive choices and experiences. This is very important to me as a person who has had an abortion, doula and activist. Live birth is not the only option or outcome for pregnant people. I found that it is extremely important to have conversation in community about the support that people need no matter the outcome in pregnancy.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I support pregnant people on the spectrum of reproductive choices and experiences.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I love knowing that clients feel safe and empowered to make the decision that is best for them in pregnancy.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
For it to be less stigmatized and medicalized experience.

Radical Doula Profiles: Lindsey Fisher

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 Lindsey: Wife, mother of 3, & doula and ridiculously passionate about helping women find there inherent power that they were born with. Practicing in Joplin, MO.

What inspired you to become a doula?
After I had my first child, I fell in love with the process of pregnancy, and labor/delivery. Thankfully I was fortunate to experience birth in a different light as I had my second at home with a midwife that let me have choices and I thought I cannot believe I had my first child without being able to make any of these choices for myself. I hear stories of women everyday on forums and such about how they have been mistreated misguided and misunderstood by their providers and it angers me as a woman and I feel that as a doula I can help a woman by encouraging her to find her voice.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I believe choices over one’s body is a right for everybody. I believe that just because you may be on Medicaid or other low-income scales that you still have a choice for your body and for the care that you receive. I feel like low-income women or impoverished women are still in fact women that need educated on the birth process, their choices, and their options and just because they may not be able to afford regular Doula services does not mean they don’t deserve Doula services.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Making women aware of their power.

Radical Doula Profiles: Marleen Jett

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 Marleen Jett: Hello there! My name is Marleen and I am a birth and postpartum doula serving the Los Angeles area. I trained with Doula Trainings International (DTI). I am also a member of the DTI social justice DTI committee which is a safe place where we try to think of ways to make the birth community more inclusive for all genders, races, classes, sexual orientations and bodies. I believe that birth is a natural process that can occur without medical interventions. Though medical interventions is sometimes needed, it’s my job to provide evidence based information so families can decided what is best for their birth.

What inspired you to become a doula?
Before I started my path as a doula I was a childcare provider. I cared for newborns, infants, toddlers and preteens. While working with new parents and their kids, my fascination with childbirth grew. On my free time you could easily find me reading or watching a documentary on birth. So I decided to become a doula.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I believe in fighting for marginalize pregnant people to have a safe space in the birthing community. I want them to feel empowered, informed and in control of their own body and pregnancy.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I believe in total autonomy of the birthing person regardless of my personal views. I feel like if the birthing person doesn’t make their own decisions they will not feel empowered or satisfied with their birth story.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Becoming a doula has filled my life with so much joy. I get to witness the most sacred time of someone’s life while giving emotional support. I believe in the true sense of Holistic care; which means considering the complete person physically and psychologically. I do this by educating families on plant based nutrition and the importance of self care.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I hate how white woman centered the birthing community is. I have witness many leaders in birthing community be very publicly Transphobic. I also have been in birth community where I myself as a POC didn’t feel included or welcomed. I would love to see more spaces inclusive to all.

Radical Doula Profiles: Jessica Jimenez

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 Jessica Jimenez: I am a queer-identified postpartum doula taking clients in the Los Angeles area. DONA trained in New York by Jackie Kelleher, the woman who literally wrote the book on postpartum doula support. I am a trained and certified educator with a degree in Art Education, which is an awesome background to have as a doula because I have tons of teaching tools paired with a creative practice. Born to help others, you will usually find me mentoring, training, and educating outside of working with clients. Website: www.losangelestribe.com

What inspired you to become a doula?
Why I became a doula is two parts. One part, because I loved working with families as an educator. However, as an educator, there was already so much history to each child and family before I met them. I wanted to be there at the beginning of a family to help them have an amazing start. The second part is because there are gaps in the care new families receive and I have seen, in my friends and family, how those gaps can negatively affect the development of parents and children. I am a born nurturer and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my life than to fill those gaps of care to provide families with a lifeline at such a vulnerable time.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I am a radical doula because I advocate for change. I stand up and educate when I see unfair treatment. I am a radical doula because I live to be the change I want to see in the world.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
The best thing about being a doula is serving my clients. Lifting their spirits, cheering them on, lightening their load, teaching them new skills, being a calm presence, hearing their stories, building their confidence. I am happy as a human when I can help others to thrive. I mean, what’s not to love about being a doula?

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I would change the blanket-style care in birth and postpartum. I would change the typical way people are treated in the same way no matter their personal preferences, fears, or identity. This method of care undermines parents and can strip them of their confidence to birth and parent the way they know they will be most successful. I want to see more personal, individualized care.