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: 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.

Radical Doula Profiles: Linda Bennett

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 Linda Bennett: I am a retired Direct-Entry Midwife (21 years of a birth center and home birth practice, serving diverse families). Currently I assist in the training of Doulas and accept just a few Doula clients each year. This allows me to provide deeply personal support tailored to your needs. It also allows me to accept “Last Minute” clients. I think families should be supported when their plans for their births change to include Doula support even if it is only a few months before baby is “due.” (or even last minute) I have a special interest in supporting VBACs. If families plan on birthing in the hospital but want to stay home as long as possible I offer Monitrice services as well as Doula support. Monitrice while out of the hospital and Doula when under the direct care of your midwife or doctor. I sub-specialize in high-risk and other challenging circumstances and am a full-spectrum Doula. My pronouns are she/her, or they/their. Contact: Text or call 503-841-3167, email lbennett649@yahoo.com.

Geographic Location: Mid-Willamette Valley (Oregon) north to include Vancouver Washington

What inspired you to become a doula?
Becoming a family has been the most challenging and amazing experience of my life. To lend my experience and expertise to new families as they start their journeys, and as their families expand, adds to my appreciation for the warmth, love, resiliency, and importance of family.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
A defining characteristic of my life has been to challenge expectations by asking the hard questions such as “Why?” and “Why not?” I prefer logic to tradition, evidence to “accepted practice,” and support self-determinism, even if I would not do it that same way. I am continually surprised when others label this as “radical.” Now I embrace that label.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
Doula Philosophy: Our bodies are made to work if we don’t get in the way of and even facilitate their physiology. Birth happens on all of the planes of our existence i.e. physical and biologic, personal and emotional, social, and even in the broadest scheme of things, the spiritual. Identification of the social forces that have shaped our understanding of ourselves and our relationships with each other are political. The individuals and institutions that have asserted control over that understanding and personal agency are political. The colonization of others’ bodies because of their reproductive powers is the source of Patriarchy and the model for other colonizations. Racism and lack of Social Justice and Reproductive Justice kills. Justice should be the norm and not have to be fought for while in labor or while giving birth.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
When the members of the family mesh in support of these new lives, when the universe spins on its axis as this new family is created, are my favorite aspects of being there in support.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
Too many drugs are used to ease the interventions that may not have been needed if the principles of physiologic birth had been implemented. Oh… and there is still too little actual “Informed” plus “Consent.” I have seen and facilitated true Informed Consent, and it is powerful, even in the most challenging circumstances.

Radical Doula Profiles: Jenna Brown

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!

Jenna Brown (they/them/theirs) is a queer doula and radical educator, and the founder of Love Over Fear Wellness & Birth in Philadelphia, PA. As someone who has never shied away from vulnerability, Jenna shares the most intimate parts of their life willingly in the hopes that others will connect and feel less isolated. They have always felt called to something BIG, but it wasn’t until finding full-spectrum doula work in 2016 that their passions for social justice, trauma, somatics, philosophy, and meaningful self-work came together in brilliant harmony. Jenna is passionate about bringing the doula model of care to people and families experiencing transformations of all kinds – conception, pregnancy, birth, loss, abortion, postpartum, social/medical transitions, and more!

Jenna is a trans non-binary person, and sees their queer identity and its related experiences as strengths in their work. You see, Jenna is practiced in transition. They live in the space between who they were before, and who they are becoming. They lean into the discomfort of deeply understanding every nook and cranny of their own sense of self. They are familiar with the experience of isolation, even in moments when they are not alone. They relate to the feeling of existing outside of the “norm” in a world where the “norm” is an illusion.

You can learn more at loveoverfearwellness.com or by following @loveoverfearwellness on Instagram or Facebook.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I was inspired to become a doula in large part due to The Radical Doula Guide. I do not think that I would have felt at home in this work and identity without a resource like it, to show me that doula work could be part of my non-binary life. As my friends and community members began having children, and I started hearing for the first time about the state of perinatal care in the US, I was driven to take action. I felt that the skills and strengths I had developed would be a perfect fit for the work, and I have found so much continued growth since taking on the role of “doula.”

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I refer to myself as a “queer doula & radical educator,” to clarify how I approach doula work. There are so many misconceptions about what a doula is and does, and also so many diverse ways that people approach their work as a doula. I identify with the term “radical” because I believe the fundamental nature of what I do is politically-charged, in response to a need for massive reform, and at its root, connected to a return to intuition. I don’t think that someone needs to be a rebel in order to work with me, but I do think they need to be willing to identify and ask for what they need – and in our culture, that simplicity is radical.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I talk a lot about “radical self-awareness,” and bodily autonomy in both my professional work and my personal life. Radical self-awareness is part somatics, part emotional intelligent, and part social location. It is the practice of tapping into ones lived experience in their body. It is the practice of identifying ones emotional experience. It is the awareness of how ones identity, privilege, and/or circumstance impact the way in which they navigate the world around them.

Bodily autonomy is the capacity to exercise self-determination and basic human rights when it comes to existing within a body. This means choosing language that is in alignment with ones identity and experience. This means practicing informed consent when it comes to agency over ones body. This means giving oneself permission to say, “yes,” and to say, “no.”

These principles inform my belief that we are all subjective beings having dynamic experiences. That subjectivity makes for a lot of messiness when it comes to relating to one another, in particular in political spaces. I think that the awareness of social location is a large piece of what informs my broader political beliefs, especially as a privileged white person navigating my role in dismantling oppressive systems and forces.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
My favorite thing about being a doula is watching someone transform. Witnessing the moment or moments in which they realize what they want/need, create space for it, and live it. It is not something that I create for them, but it is something I feel honored to be a small part of.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
Pregnancy and birth are incredibly personal. The experience is different for every single pregnant and birthing person. If I could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, it would be one big thing – I wish that the systems in place (care systems, but also social systems) left space for people to define that experience for themselves… that they didn’t project onto them, or make assumptions about them, but rather asked, “how is this for you?”

Radical Doula Profiles: Teresa Bree Interlicchia

Smiling person with short hairAbout Teresa Bree Interlicchia: I’m a homeschooling mama to two beautiful babes, and I work in partnership with my dear friend Cris as a postpartum doula and class-offerer at Rally Doulas. I have a BA in History and am an avid devourer of folk-herbalism, folk-tales, oral histories, and all things associated with the normal people in History. We offer our work in the Finger Lakes to Rochester area of New York State. Website: http://www.rallydoulas.com

What inspired you to become a doula?
When I birthed my first child, 11-ish years ago, I was one of the first in my community to have a child. It seemed like everyone else was still playing in punk bands and living a pretty free lifestyle and postpartum hit me as a very difficult transition. I struggled with breastfeeding, I struggled with postpartum anxiety, I struggled. A lot.  As my friends became parents, I offered support. I helped with breastfeeding. I answered questions. I brought up the tough things that so often get skipped over when people visit postpartum folks. I wanted to be real and reinforce that all of the feelings are normal and should not be judged or dismissed.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
My goal as a postpartum doula is always to work myself out of a job. My long term goal (which class-offering is a huge part of) is to help people remember how to doula each other. I do not hold the belief that the role of Doula is one that can only be held by a “certified professional”. This idea is so new in our culture. I think that we are all capable of fulfilling the needs that parents have if we learn to communicate properly, remember how to receive, and drop our feelings of “not-enough-ness”. We need each other. I have done years of training (book learning, hands on learning, and mentorship) but I am not certified by a governing body to do postpartum work. And that is kind of by choice. This feels good (and radical) to me.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I think that we need to become re-connected in our communities. While I see the huge resource that the internet is, it is also doing us a huge disservice in our day to day interactions. There is likely someone on your very street or in your apartment building that could support you during postpartum (life) in someway! We need to re-connect with the people who are physically around us! And we need to make asking for help a normal and non-judged action. This also extends to my broader political (and social) beliefs. We all have skills. We all have things to offer. And we all need help. Let’s re-connect in our community. Let’s re-build physical connections. Let’s barter and trade our skills and our goods.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I love being a gentle support that nudges parents in the direction of finding their confidence and voice. Most folks know what instinctually feels right when caring for new babes, they just don’t know how to hear that voice of knowing. We are so inundated with experts and websites and books…. we forget to pause and go to our gut. I love helping parents who want to breastfeed be successful in it. And I love listening to parents talk about all of the feelings and concerns and joys of caring for babes!

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I would erase, in every parent, the weighing feeling that asking for help equals admitting defeat. We were never meant to go through the experiences of life alone. Historically, there have been social support systems in place to help with all of the thresholds from life to death. It is only very recently that we have turned these roles of support over to professionals and certified people.
I would instill the memory in every brain of every person in society that we are all capable of helping, and that we are all worthy of receiving help. And more bartering and trade!