Reviews and Excerpts of the Radical Doula Guide

Each August I try to take at least two weeks off from work, which mostly translates as not checking my email. It’s a necessary ritual for my sanity, and for my brain to re-calibrate to life away from inboxes. This year’s vacation also coincided with a move from Brooklyn, NY, where I’ve been living for the past two years, back to Washington, DC where I used to live.

While I was away, a lovely number of you (about 40) ordered copies of the Radical Doula Guide. Thank you! I put those copies in the mail today, so apologies for the delay.

If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, there is still time. I’ve already sold about half of the guides I printed, so don’t wait too long!

You can order your copy here.

Anna J. Cook, a long-time reader and fellow feminist blogger wrote a lovely review of the guide. It’s thoughtful and comprehensive and you should read the whole thing. But here is a quick taste:

Miriam’s 52-page “political primer” discusses the political nature of what she terms “full spectrum pregnancy and childbirth support” — a concept that covers not only childbirth and postpartum doula work, but also abortion and miscarriage doula care, a relatively new service some trained doulas are offering. There are books and training workshops available for learning doula techniques, and The Radical Doula Guide doesn’t seek to replicate those resources. Instead, Miriam offers some reflections on how doula work intersects with political systems: “a starting point to understanding the social justice issues that interface with doula and birth activism” (4).

In four brief sections, Miriam acts as a tour guide through different aspects of full-spectrum doula care and brief analyses of three broad categories of intersection between pregnancy and politics: “bodies” (race, gender, sexual orientation, size, age, and HIV/AIDS), “systems” (immigration and incarceration), and “power” (class and intimate violence/abuse). Using these broad categories with the more familiar nodes of inequality as sub-categories draws our attention back from specific issues to think in more expansive terms about the ways our bodies and lives are policed within society in both informal and formal ways. And specifically, how those constraints shape the experience of pregnancy and parenting.

While you wait for your copy to arrive you can also check out this excerpt that ran in Women’s Enews two weeks ago. It’s bits and pieces of the introduction, pulled together for a broader-than-doula audience:

We all come to this work for different reasons. Until recently, most of the doulas I encountered were parents themselves–their childbirth experience, whether positive or negative, inspired them to serve others during pregnancy and childbirth.

Now I see a different group coming into this work. Young people without children but with a passion for health activism are finding doula work and see it as a new way to channel their desire to engage in direct service or direct action. Books and documentaries about maternal health in the U.S. have in­spired many people.

I often get comments and emails with questions about how I can be both an abortion doula and a birth doula–aren’t those two things a contradiction? I always reply that the answer is definitely no. The common thread throughout all these experiences, and all the ways in which I apply my skills as a doula, is unconditional and nonjudgmental support. That is the essence of doula work.

Read the full thing here.

Update: A new review by Jillian L. Schweitzer is here.

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