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, 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: Juniper Wilson

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!

Screen Shot 2022-04-29 at 1.48.17 PMAbout Juniper Wilson: Lilac Dreams is serving Washtenaw County, Michigan. I am on Anishinabewaki , Bodéwadmiakiwen (Potawatomi), Meškwahki·aša·hina (Fox), and Peoria land. Doula juju is open and down to traveling! My doula practice is holistic, community care based. I am here to assure that my communities have care that is affordable, access-centered, and honest. I aim to serve the following communities: Black, Indigenous, ND, Disabled, LGBTQ+

What inspired you to become a doula?
Being Black, being trans-femme, being queer. Intersectionality really pop, locked, and dropped it on my ass. Honestly. I realize that in this life, in this climate, in this world, my body is not naturally valued and seen as beautiful. Although I do, this world does not. I feel called to doula work because I understand the complexity of identity is not protected in health care. Too many of my community members are unseen and unheard in the health world. Too many of my siblings are unsupported and uneducated about their reproductive choices and rights. I hope to serve as an ally, advocate, and peer offering support and love to all of my clients.

My journey began with an OBGYN internship. I quickly learned that although the work was exciting, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I wanted to take care of folks, provide a shoulder, prepare meals, and educate folks about their reproductive rights and choices. I led a few organizations where I stood as a peer educator for sexual assault awareness and reproductive rights specifically within Black and Queer-Trans communities.

I was inspired to become a BADT full spectrum doula because my entire life, it has been my calling. I’ve always felt pulled to taking care of community and pregnant folks. I became a doula through BADT because I wanted to learn to be inclusive with my care and serve all pregnant/birthing folks.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
Lilac Dreams offers holistic, full-spectrum doula care to all birthing people during all birthing outcomes.
Full-spectrum care includes menstruation, infertility, loss and abortion, birth and labor, postpartum and adoption. Through the use of herbs, mindfulness, and intuition, juju will holistically attend to all of your needs.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
Although this is not a healing space, there may be healing that takes place here. Our practice comes from a place of love, learning, and accountability. Black folks, particularly Black uterus owners, are vastly unprotected in this world. With that being said, this work comes with decolonizing our every day practices, holding ourselves and community accountable for anti-black, transphobia, ableism, and capitalist thinking and colonizer behavior.

Doula Care with Lilac Dreams is:
anti-racism + anti-capitalism work
honoring + venerating ancestors
bodily autonomy + informed consent
access-centered + trauma informed care
accountability and boundaries
community care
harm reduction
reproductive justice
Black, LGBTQIA2S+ affirming
this is a pro-hoe, pro-fat space.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I enjoy creating connections with folks and being a safe space for them to come vent, seek resources, and just exist in their natural form.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
Black birthing folks getting the support, education, and deliveries they deserve!

Radical Doula Profiles: Alex Barr

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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 Alex: I’m a doula and childbirth educator located in Phoenix, AZ. I was trained in March 2020 and certified in March 2021 through a local birth center. I’m passionate about providing inclusive and safe spaces for pregnant people in my community.

You can find more about me at alexbarrdoula.com or on Instagram.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I became a doula because there is a persistent lack of support for people in general, but specifically in the birth experience. The transition to pregnant person and the transition to parenthood is not treated with any of the care, love, or support needed to sustain us. I felt that becoming a doula and childbirth educator was a way to provide that community support that is so desperately needed.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
As I’ve dived into the birth work community there aren’t very many people providing inclusive practices and support.I’ve made it my goal to make my practices trauma informed, inclusive in language, and focused on people that don’t ‘fit’ in the typical idea of birthing person.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
My doula philosophy is all about community support. I provide the support, I connect pregnant people together, I provide resources so my clients feel supported even after they’re no longer working with me. This fits into my belief about helping the people who need it the most helps everyone around us, we all rise together.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I love seeing people come into themselves in pregnancy and birth, whether that’s standing up for themselves, getting the birth they desired, or simply asking for the help they need.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I would change the community around it. So many people walk into pregnancy, birth, and parenthood alone and unsupported in their choices.

Radical Doula Profiles: Summer Diegel

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!
Summer

About Summer: Summer Gail Diegel is a children’s minister and full spectrum doula in Duwamish Tribal lands that have come to be known as Seattle, WA. ​Summer has prioritized continued education to develop their artistry in communication, body care, spiritual guidance, and all-ages wellness education. Summer develops curriculum, facilitates workshops, courses, and offers doula care services– but is most at home cozied up with a sci-fi or fantasy novel. They use their love of story to create imaginative methods of facilitating connection through skilled planning, soothing techniques, on-call care, and education for children and adults. Check out their website.

What inspired you to become a doula?
Even as a child I was drawn to people who were skilled in de-escalation, who were kind hearted, who were artists, and often people that were spiritual. I had really authentic relationships with the people in my community who cared for me, a lot of them have been teachers, ministry, and community cooks at churches I grew up attending. So I knew that I wanted to care for people the way that I saw those people caring for people. The first doulas I knew were and are in queer communities, in churches, feeding their neighbors, supporting overdose prevention programs, organizing healing & first aid support on the streets, and making poetry, jewelry, art.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I am drawn to full spectrum support because it centers the values of clients’ choice. The idea of full spectrum care is to provide non judgemental support regardless of a person’s outcome. In pregnancy that includes birth, miscarriage, abortion, or adoption. In WA state we have a lot of legal choices in death too, including various disposition methods, and end-of-life supports like Medical Aid in Dying, and Voluntary Stopping of Eating and Drinking.

I’ve worked in death care for several years. But I only began learning the doula model of care three years ago. I think I may have said this earlier, but it’s most important to me to learn doula care and grow my personal toolbox so that I can be prepared for my elders, my friends, and my family. And I really enjoy this work, so if really anyone chooses me as their doula, I would like to make my services accessible to them. Sometimes my doula work is relational, other times it is volunteer, barter based, or sliding scale. That’s what intertwines my doula work with my activism. It’s up to each person how they make it fit their needs.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I really believe that a lot of doula work happens all the time, in small moments and transitions. So I think to offer doula care it’s important that I slow down and find what is authentic to me, to recognize this work as community-centered, and to honor it as such without creating gates or replicating patterns that keep others from care. And I encourage people to learn with others and seek long-term mentorship rather than try to practice alone, because accountability in care work is really important to keeping our clients and community members safe.

My Irish and Polish ancestors shared traditions and cultural stories of life transitions such as pregnancy and end-of-life– they had community roles, wisdom, and sacred medicines for that to teach one another and share in accountable care work. But because of a number of things, including several hundred years of European colonization and American imperialism, that knowledge has shifted out of my family, this is one way of re-learning those skills. That’s what I consider the doula model of care to be– a re-introduction to knowledge that is my right as a human in a body.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I love that I can become more prepared with skills for my disabled community members, my elders, my friends, and my family. So I love that it can prepare me to love people more. I am growing my skills for doula care in so many different ways currently. My favorite thing is being young and in a position of learning with my teachers– which is a privilege. It feels sacred to me to be a young person who feels pulled to work at the threshold, where I have been invited to witness experts at work and practice among them.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
If I could change one experience of pregnancy and birth then every person would be receiving long-term postpartum support in their tradition or preferences; regardless of their pregnancy outcome.

Radical Doula Profiles: Karma

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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 Karma: Karma is a Traditional Birth Attendant and a Guide for women to reclaim and cultivate their personal power. Her work is to be with women and mothers that are navigating their life by offering support, care, nourishment, love and healing through: herbal medicine; prenatal, birth, spontaneous or intentional pregnancy release and postpartum support; bodywork; coaching; pelvic health education; sister circles, online courses and more.

She’s continuing to grow her community of like-minded women all over Vancouver Island, Canada and you can contact her through instagram, through her website: SacredBEarthkeeping.com or through email: SacredBEarthkeeping@hotmail.com

What inspired you to become a doula?

This is my life’s work as I’m passionate about women reclaiming and cultivating the power that has been taken from them and the best place to start is with mothers birthing our new generations.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?

I identify with this term, but more so Traditional Birth attendant or Traditional Midwife because I do my work completely outside of patriarchal influence. I guide women to live their life in that way and to recognize the benefit of self responsibility. There is no one on earth that knows more about a woman’s body or what is needed for her birth process than that woman herself. I’m educating women to know that their body isn’t broken and that they can absolutely birth their baby on their own terms.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?

MY philosophy is that the female body isn’t inherently broken and birth isn’t inherently a medical event. Every woman had within her the power to safely birth her baby where and whenever she wants to with whomever she wants present.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?

I love seeing women connect to and fully understand the power within themselves and when its not suppressed they literally can do anything.

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

I would change the fact that women are so reliant on the industrialized medical system to “save” them, which only leaves them with the trauma of birth violence and OB or medical Midwife betrayal.

Radical Doula Profiles: Harley Banfield

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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 Harley: I was awakened to my passion towards birth and the finding out of my 2nd pregnancy and have been educating myself on all things birth ever since. 6+ years. I reside in Central/southern Indiana. You can reach me anytime by email Harleybanfield@mtdiyonbirthkeeping.com
864 407 8909
Mt Diyon Birthkeeping

What inspired you to become a doula?
My life changed when I discovered a whole new world about health and wellness which led me down the rabbit hole to birth and all the options there were that I didn’t know about and as soon as I became educated about them I wanted to share them with other mommas as well! I’ve now been a *Formal* birth doula for 4yrs.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
Skip the ordinary doula! Invest in someone truly worth it is my motto, I myself have had 2 free births. I’m the Holistic/unorthodox/natural alternative type. Prenatal education and birth support to the fullest ability of truth, love and evidenced based care.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
Prenatal education and birth support to the fullest ability of truth, love and evidenced based care. Skip the ordinary doula! Invest in someone truly worth it. I’m the Holistic/unorthodox/natural alternative type.
Mothers should be supported no matter what they choose! Non judgmental birth support to the fullest ability of truth, love and evidenced based care. & p.s YES, Advocacy IS a small but highly integrative accessory to birth support, should that be your desire! Bring faith-based Professional maternal support to you birth team!

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Experiencing the empowerment of free births!

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
It would be to change natural primal feelings or assumptions relating to the physical feelings or pain of giving birth.

Radical Doula Profiles: Darlene Nava Muñoz

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 Darlene Nava Muñoz: I’m 34, latinx and a third generation birthworker serving my hometown Chicago, Illinois. I created LaPlacenta.org to connect with you and share information about my services. I enjoy being a full spectrum doula and assisting with birth, placentas and post-surgery aftercare!

What inspired you to become a doula?
A third generation birthworker, I come from a long heritage of parteras. My great grandmother would ride horse back in middle of the night into villages to support labor and delivery in home births. With the same fierceness, my commitment is to intentionally and respectfully advocate for your agency in your body. All people deserve informed quality care and attention in a time of big life changes!

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I’m a radical doula because I believe in social reform for the betterment of marginalized communities. I want to center the care of lgbt and bipoc folks to promote better birth and healing outcomes.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
As a doula it is my honor to be by your side and advocate for you. Enthusiastic consent is the guiding principle of my work. I am in your corner, listening deeply and collaborating with you to support you knowing your options and making informed decisions.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Knowing I can support people in community through tough moments of pain in concrete ways of emotional and physical support is the most gratifying thing about being a doula ❤

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I wish for queer and trans families to be respected and cherished. Transgender men and nonbinary people have I wish for Black birth outcomes to be just as viable as the statistics of other demographics which starts with how people are treated in consults and during labor and delivery.

Radical Doula Profiles: Shannon Schermerhorn

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 Shannon Schermerhorn: I am an out of the ordinary homemaker. My first 4 kids were born at home with a midwife and the last 3 were freebirths. Homeschooling all my kids, the first 4 have graduated and now are working and/or going to school. The younger 3 are still at home doing their studies. My days are filled with enjoying my family, gardening, making meals from scratch, reading, lifting weights, being thankful, and simply….loving life. I am located in Bellflower, California and my website is www.adrivenwoman.net.

What inspired you to become a doula?
Our family has always been involved in community. Frequently I was asked questions pertaining to birth, breastfeeding, baby wearing and parenting in general. I am always just as excited to share and encourage as the woman who is asking. After many years of supporting women, I decided I should start my postpartum doula training and become certified.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
Is the term RADICAL DOULA synonymous with BLACK SHEEP? Always following the beat of my own drum, I did things most of my friends and family did not. When asked by another woman about my homebirths, I was asked by the elders to not speak, I spoke anyway. When I was asked to sit in the back of our fellowship and breastfeed, I refused and stayed right where I was and continued to discreetly (this was 25 years ago) breastfeed. I have mothered in a different fashion than what many have deemed as normal-and it’s not that I have wanted to call attention to myself, but rather, I have ONLY wanted for myself and other women to be respected and supported in doing what works best for US, for every woman and situation is different.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
In our society, staying home and mothering as I have been able to do, is not always possible, nor wanted. Some women must work and some women want to use their gifts and talents outside their four walls. All women, children, and men deserve care and support regardless of age, gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or economic status.

I do believe fervently, in the value of the home and family, but today that often looks very different than traditional families of our parents. 2 moms, 3 moms, 1 dad, 3 dads, grandma, uncle, is doesn’t matter….as a doula, I want to help my family adjust physically, spiritually, and mentally into a new beginning with baby. I have found that most problems a new family experiences can be resolved by coming up with solutions that are respectful to all and then, making a game plan.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
My favorite thing about being a doula, most definitely, is observing the parents “ahaaaa” moments. Moments where they become aware that they REALLY DO HAVE THIS! And as I am cheering, momma and partner look at one another, their physical frames melt, they smile, inhale, and exhale….while grabbing each others hand….that is my favorite part!

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
If I could change one thing I would URGE women to take the lead in educating THEMSELVES on growing, birthing, and feeding their baby. My couples who have spent time learning on their own through books, videos, and contact with other like-minded couples are more confident, sure, and able to stand strong if and when challenges present themselves.

Radical Doula Profiles: Denise Handlarski

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 Denise Handlarski, Jewish Doula: Jewish Doula works to bring a spiritual and ritual dimension back to pregnancy and birth. I support folks who want to learn about Jewish approaches and traditions, and who want support in creating a spiritual birth plan. I work with clients all over the world via the web and support folks in the Greater Toronto Area who want in-person support at their birth. Contact Denise on the web and facebook.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I had a difficult first birth and realized I wanted spiritual material to help me through. I prepared for my second, gathering Jewish birth blessings, art, music, ritual, and visualizations. Now I want to support others who find this spiritual support useful. Birth was always a spiritual/culturally-informed experience. Medicalization has changed that. I’d like to reclaim it.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
A Radical Doula is someone who supports holistic approaches to birth, supporting the birthing person so that they have the best possible birth experience. This means feeling supported and empowered, bringing the wholeness of self to the pregnancy/birth experience.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
Women and trans/non-binary folks have a history of being marginalized and disempowered by the medical profession. Many care providers are great and many are not. A Doula helps ensure the birthing person is treated well and stays informed and empowered. My own belief is that the spiritual dimension of birth is often overlooked, when it might be just the thing someone needs to feel their birth was a positive experience.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Getting to watch the raw power of the woman/birthing person. It’s mind-blowing.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I’d want each person to feel supported and empowered, no matter what twists and turns the labor/birth takes

Radical Doula Profiles: Christina

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 Christina: Christina’s intuitive sense and passion to be of service to her community have led her to working with families. With a background in education, Christina has worked with children and families as a preschool teacher, a Montessori TA and as lead teacher of a K-2 classroom. Here, Christina began to understand how important awareness and emotional intelligence are to our human experience. She approaches her care with intuitive guidance, openness and patience. She came to Asheville, North Carolina ten years ago and is driven by the Spanish words for birth, “Dal la Luz” which means to give light. She hopes to bring light to each birthing person and their experience. Email: sagecaredoula@gmail.com

What inspired you to become a doula?
While entertaining becoming a labor and delivery nurse, I found out what a doula was. I intuitively knew that the emotional and physical support were going to be the best way for me to present for the birthing family. After my training, I knew that I had made the best choice for myself and all of the families that I will be of service to.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
Social justice work and supporting marginalized communities is a passion for Christina. She is also a trained doula for individuals who are survivors of sexual abuse. It is her hope to bring this compassionate care to all families.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
Christina has turned dreams into reality by building an off grid tiny house and living intimately with the land. Radical and sustainable living is in essence a huge part of who Christina is in this world. Identifying as a queer woman of color, is a key component to her personal and political politics. These experiences helped Christina gain an admiration and respect for the primal aspects of self, advocating for marginalized communities and the importance of understanding and applying information. It is her hope to honor the intuitive part of the birthing process while also supporting families in making informed choices.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I view being a doula as a privilege. It is amazing to be able to support birthing individuals through such a transformative part of their lives. Being present and witnessing the entire process is the best part of it all.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
To be able to support birthing people all over the country and not be limited to the specific area where I reside.

Radical Doula Profiles: Qiddist Ashe

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 Qiddist Ashe: Qiddist is a liberatory educator, a facilitator, a birth, postpartum and full spectrum doula, and a practitioner of herbal ancestral wisdom. She believes that we all have the capacity to become our own healers, and is passionate about making holistic, ancestral and evidence-based care especially available to Black communities and other communities of color. She currently serves the Chicagoland area with sliding-scale full spectrum doula services, including birth, postpartum, placenta encapsulation, abortion support, herbalism, reproductive wellness and more. You can reach her through her website.

What inspired you to become a doula?
My great grandmother was a midwife and medicine woman, and although I never met her, I believe her wisdom and dedication to supporting birthers has been a part of me since I was a child. As I grew up witnessing the racial disparities in our medical model and how Black folx are consistently underserved in our current system, I became motivated to offer care that affirms people’s autonomy and guides them to reclaim their own lineages of power and innate wisdom.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
In the words of Angela Davis, “radical simply means ‘grasping things’ at the roots.'” I identify with the term “radical doula” because my practice is centered on uncovering our own power, wisdom and knowledge about our health and our bodies that have been covered up by oppressive systems. I am a radical doula because I center marginalized bodies (Black, queer, trans, fat, disabled, etc.) and THEIR needs and wants, whether that fits within or outside our existing medical systems.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I am committed to providing deeply relational support that both honors ancestral wisdom and uses evidence-based practices, and to especially make this vital support culturally responsive and accessible to Black communities as an important part our collective healing. I incorporate practices from across the African diaspora that bring opportunities to claim your own healing power, and provide informational, emotional, physical and spiritual care that holds the sacred space of your unique journey. In the realm of birth, I believe everyone should be allowed to birth in their own power regardless of where or how they birth, and I affirm all choices to do so even if they are outside the medical paradigm.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
What I love most about being a doula is getting to hold supportive and sacred space for people in such a transformative journey in their lives. Wherever they are at in the process, it brings me true joy to be able to nourish people in body, mind and spirit through touch, information, herbs, emotional support or just pure presence. In the words of Octavia Butler, “Kindness eases change.”

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
My vision is for all birthers to truly believe in their innate power and birthing wisdom, and to have the supportive care of their choice to birth with autonomy and intuition regardless of access and identity.