Radical Doula Profiles: Michelle Bell

The newest in the Radical Doula Profiles series is Michelle Bell!

If you’re interested in being part of the profile series here at Radical Doula, email me.

About Michelle:

I currently run a private practice where I am part of a collective (Ann Arbor Doulas). I also offer volunteer services as a postpartum and birth doula for the non-profit Doulas Care in addition to working as the Client Intake Coordinator. Doulas Care is committed to supporting, educating and empowering childbearing women and their families, and specifically exists to help women and adolescents with limited resources. If you’re receiving WIC assistance and are living in South Michigan or Metro-Toledo area and are currently pregnant, please contact us if you would like to explore the option of a doula. When I’m not attending births or working at the office, I escort at the local Planned Parenthood and write at the Gaytheists blog.

If you live in the Ann Arbor, Detroit Metro, Saginaw & Bay City area or Toledo area and are looking for doula services, please e-mail me! I can be reached at Michelle -at- annarbordoulas -dot- com and will return any inquiries within 24 hours.

Keep reading to learn more about Michelle!

RD: What inspired you to become a Doula?

MB: I feel very strongly that a woman’s right to decide what happens to her body is something that should exist no matter what. A woman’s agency doesn’t end simply because she becomes pregnant and absolutely should continue through the moment of birth. This doesn’t always happen, though, and I felt that this was a situation where I could climb into the trenches and make a difference. Learning to help women advocate for themselves and navigate a medical system that may not be amenable to women asserting their agency and informed choice has been more rewarding than I ever thought possible, and it is amazing to touch families in such an intimate way.

RD: What is your Doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?

MB: This is not about anyone but my client and my client’s family. This means I advocate for the ability of ALL families, including non-traditional and lower-income families, to have a say in the if, when and how they build their families. This means access to reproductive health care, including abortion and contraceptives, access to the place of choice for birth, choice of health care provider, and just about anything else that is important to my client and family.

RD: What is your favorite thing about being a Doula?

MB: Hands down, seeing just how damn powerful women are. It is amazing to see a woman bring a whole other person into the world and to be a witness to that.

RD: If you could change one thing about birth in the US, what would it be?

MB: I would love for women to not have to go to war with healthcare providers to have agency over their body. I have had some really great experiences where women had providers who worked with them to achieve a safe and healthy birth that was (in their words) what they were looking for. This is even when things didn’t go quite as expected. I’ve also had some experiences where women literally had to fight tooth and nail to exercise control over their bodies and the environment they were in and (in their words) had a horrible experience giving birth. I don’t know exactly what would need to change for this to happen, but it’s the goal I work towards.

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