This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Email me.
This week’s Radical Doula Profile is a fun joint edition. Charlie Rae and Megan are part of the Barefoot Birth crew and are being profiled here together.
About Charlie Rae and Megan:
Charlie Rae Young is a mother, doula, natural birth advocate, and aspiring midwife. She began her work in the birth field with the Coalition for Improving Maternity Care Services (CIMS) as a grassroots ambassador for The Birth Survey. Currently, Charlie works as both a Birth Assistant and Childbirth Educator for several home birth midwives near Tampa, FL. Charlie believes that women still have an innate ability to give birth without intervention and strives to make a positive difference in the total birth experience for new mothers.
Above being a loving stay-at-home mother to her beautiful daughter Lydia, Megan D’Orazio currently teaches private childbirth education classes and works as a birth and postpartum doula. Megan’s kind-hearted nature and gentle disposition make her an ideal partner and asset for birthing mothers. She intends to inspire confidence in women by helping them trust their bodies while assisting in the creation of the total birth experience they are looking for.
What inspired you to become a doula?
Megan: After an unsatisfactory hospital birth, I began to further my education on maternity care in the United States thus leading me into a whirlwind of negative emotions regarding my care. After my realization that I was still dealing with issues surrounding my birth, physical and mental, I needed a way to reach out to other women who were going through the same thing. With a background in education and working with women in other women’s rights arenas such as The National Abortion Rights Action League, and Ohio Citizen Action I found birth to be a common ground on which women connect and need support in different ways- regardless of their background or previous circumstances.
Charlie Rae: I went into the birth of my daughter feeling very educated and at peace with my decisions on my care provider and plan to have a natural birth in a hospital setting. Her birth was a rude awakening for me, and left me feeling betrayed- like I had been completely misled by members of the birth community that were supposed to help to educate and support me. I felt intense anger towards the system that I had just been another number in. The only way for me to channel that negative energy was to drown myself in education regarding birth and simple human rights in maternity care. Doula work found me, more than I found it.
Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
We would have never labeled ourselves as ‘radical doulas’, however, we suddenly found ourselves being titled by other more mainstream birth professionals as ‘radical’ and ‘rogue.’ After feeling hurt and confused by the title, we began to dissect the meaning a bit more. We found that if standing up for what we believe in, and providing women with the care and education that we KNOW they deserve is radical- the we will embrace it whole heartedly. “When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.” For other doulas, rubbing shoulders with local health care providers, racing to see how many letters they can get following their names, and making gobs of money seem to be driving factors in their business. For us, it has never been a ‘job’ or just a ‘business’, nor have we ever been interested in any of those egotistical things. We are doulas who serve women the way we would want to be served, period.
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
Megan: I view birth as a human rights issue, it should not concern just childbearing women or their partners. If I can educate all women on the issues they will face if they should decide to become pregnant in our country at the moment – then that is not just changing that woman’s birth, but also shaping how they will share their story for the rest of their life. I believe in a woman’s right to choose the birth she wants, but I am also morally obligated to answer any questions she may have truthfully, frankly, and directly without having to worry about political repercussions.
Charlie: Honesty is the number one rule for me whether I am in my day to day life or working with women. I refuse to lead a woman blindly down a path that I know will be both destructive and detrimental to her pregnancy and birth wishes. For me, this meant choosing not to certify with any doula certifying agency because I would then be required to work under their ideals and scope of practice- often those conflict directly with offering women the truth about the type of care they might receive. I feel that if a woman is honestly educated about the pros and cons of everything; whether it be tests, procedures, or caregivers -she will make an informed decision that she can feel confident in.
What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
What isn’t awesome about being a doula?
Megan: I enjoy having the freedom of not being certified through an organization that would only restrict the way I am able to serve women. You are watching someone else’s life be changed forever. There has not been a single birth I have left not feeling like the luckiest girl on the planet. You get to see a woman go from just herself, through the entire process of childbearing, directly into motherhood- is there anything more intense to connect with another woman through?
Charlie: The best feeling in the world is seeing a brand new mama hold her slimy little baby with the look of accomplishment that she made that happen. All of her decisions led up to that very moment, and that is her time to enjoy it 100%… I am lucky to get to be a part of that moment. It is the ultimate empowering experience we can connect through as humans.
We also like babies.
If you could change one thing about birth in the US, what would it be?
GET OUT OF THE HOSPITAL.
Charlie: All other countries with maternal mortality rates less than the United States have midwives as their primary caregivers. Here in Florida we have the highest cesarean rates in the country. If all low risk women were being cared for by midwives in out of hospital settings, we would see better outcomes, healthier mamas and babies, and women would be able to tell their birth story with confidence that they had control. The hospital has a place in maternity care, but with politics and money that control them at this moment in time it is not the place for normal birth.
Megan: Wouldn’t it be great if there was a movement towards providing women, throughout all parts of life, with fact-based education that enables them to make decisions for themselves that they are fearless in? With that strong base of knowledge they will be able to travel into the uncertainty of motherhood with less hesitation and more confidence.