This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Email me.
Kristen Ethier is a radical feminist, queer reproductive justice activist & proud doula. She recently started her very own practice called Kaleidoscope Doula Care and is getting her roots as a new-to-Chicago doula. She is proud to offer doula support for all pregnancy options including birth, abortion and adoption as well as care for all families and pregnant people. She really loves working with teens & LGBTQ pregnant people & if you are in Chicago, she wants to be your doula! She can be reached at email@example.com. Also, check out her website at www.kaleidoscopedoula.com.
RD: What inspired you to become a doula?
KE: I was initially inspired to become a doula when I was working in abortion care. This may seem like an unlikely place to start, but being in the room and, essentially acting as a doula for women having abortions was incredibly powerful and struck a chord for me. After this initial inspiration, I went on to work with teen mothers and not altogether surprisingly, heard not only from the mothers but also from health care providers who admit to not sharing the full range of options with teen mothers due to their age, low income status, etc. Since then, I have never looked back. I see being a doula as a radical political act and am constantly inspired by the small moments of liberation that are felt when people are able to make empowered decisions about their bodies.
RD: Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
KE: My identities as a radical feminist, queer, reproductive & social justice activist constantly inform my life and work. Like many repro-justice activists, I began with a focus on abortion & sexual health but have expanded this lens to include work around the barriers and injustices that pregnant people face, especially around decisions to give birth. Becoming a doula has allowed me to bring these perspectives together. I named my practice “Kaleidoscope Doula Care” reflecting my commitment to providing doula care across the spectrum of pregnancy, including abortion and birth, as well as to providing safe & unconditionally supportive care to all families and pregnant people, especially to teens & young people, and to queer, gender non-conforming and transgender folks.
RD: What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
KE: Being a doula is the one place in my work where I feel like my politics are in action, no explanation needed. For me, it is the ultimate activist & solidarity. I am constantly moved by bearing witness to people having the room to realize their strength & abilities through abortion and birth.
RD: If you could change one thing about birth in the US, what would it be?
KE: The one change and hope that I have for birth and really, pregnancy in the US is that we will get to a place where we all TRUST pregnant people to make informed, educated and empowered decisions about their pregnancy/birth and that those decisions will be accessible for all people to be able to carry out their wishes. As “birth people” or “pregnancy people”, I hope that we can work to be unconditionally supportive of the decisions that our clients make for themselves around their pregnancy & birth experiences. For me, birth and pregnancy aren’t just about this war to reclaim the birth experience from medical and patriarchal control (although I think that this is hugely important), but allowing the space for pregnant people to be honest about what they want from their experiences and doing our best as doulas to help them to make it happen.