I first met Marianne at a conference a few years back in Western Massachusetts. Her work as a doula with incarcerated folks and her all-around radical politics have been an inspiration to me since then! I’m so happy to be highlighting her as part of this series.
Marianne Bullock is a mama to a wild 3 year old, doula and student who lives in Western Mass. She is Lead Doula with The Prison Birth Project providing full spectrum doula care. The Prison Birth Project is an organization focused on reproductive justice, working to provide support, education and advocacy with women and girls at the intersection of the criminal justice and motherhood. She has been a practicing doula for over 7 years and is currently pursuing a degree in Social Justice & Environmental Studies at a local college.
What inspired you to become a doula?
When I was 18 a good friend of mine got pregnant and decided to have the baby, most of my teen years had focused on supporting my friends through their decisions to NOT be pregnant-I was the friend who would always get the call looking for what the options were and often would be the one at the clinic supporting a friend through an abortion. So this was a totally different angle that I had never considered. I was there when she pushed her baby out in her living room and it totally blew me away, I couldn’t believe that was what birth REALLY looked like, not all the media images I had been brought up on.
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I believe that all people have the right to family creation, bodily integrity and informed consent. I think being a Doula goes hand in hand with these beliefs, Im able to be an ally and an advocate as well as make really amazing friends . As a reproductive justice activist and feminist I thought I understood many of the intersections and dimensions of barriers that women and mothers face, then I got pregnant at a young(er) age (21) and quickly saw how fast those walls go up and the access gets closed down. Having support throughout the process of becoming a parent made all the difference in my life, and I believe that being a doula is a great balance of praxis for me.
What do you like most about being a doula?
Right now I work with an amazing organization I helped to start “The Prison Birth Project” I most enjoy the movement building work that I get to do behind the wall, basic political/reproductive justice education… and when it comes down to it I really just enjoy sitting around and watching birth videos with a bunch of pregnant people.
If you could change one thing about birth in the US, what would it be?
Ugh one? OK if I could change just one concrete thing, it would be that Midwifery (CPM/LPM) would be legal and recognized by all health insurance in every state. Im really so sick of my friends who don’t have access to money having their babies in hospitals when they don’t need to or want to.