This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Email me at radicaldoulaATgmailDOTcom.
Casey Wait is currently a student at Bennington College in Vermont where she studies Human Ecology. She hails from the Chicagoland area and began her doula career working with the Chicago Doula Circle as an abortion doula (which was probably the most wonderful experience of her 20-year life). Casey is passionate about radical feminism, queer issues, ecology, herbalism, social activism, and skill-sharing! Though she has yet to see a baby be born, she aspires to become a full-spectrum doula in the near future. At the present, she offers abortion doula support and would love to gain more experience in the birth world. She is very proud to be a part of the radical doula community. She has a lot to learn, but also a lot to contribute!
What inspired you to become a doula?
I have always been passionate about reproductive health and justice. I am a natural caretaker–since I was little I have always loved providing emotional and physical support to my friends and family. It wasn’t until my second year of college, when talking to my adviser about these interests, that I considered becoming a doula–in fact, I didn’t even know what a doula was until she explained to me why she believed it would be such a good fit for me.
I go to Bennington College, and here we have something called Field Work Term, which is a seven-week term between the fall and spring semesters where every student is required to do an internship in their area of study. For my first Field Work Term I worked as an abortion doula with the Chicago Doula Cirlce, a group of fantastic volunteer abortion doulas. It was during this time that I realized that doula work truly was my calling.
Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I consider myself a radical doula because I am dedicated to offering my services to any person going through any reproductive experience–be they female, male, trans, gender-non-conforming; whether they are carrying the pregnancy to term, choosing abortion, adoption, experiencing miscarriage or fetal loss. I also hope to work with those in lower income communities, to help improve the quality of care offered to these communities. I believe that at the heart of what doula work is about is compassion, and there is not a single person in this world who doesn’t deserve some compassion. I strive to normalize and validate all reproductive experiences.
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I consider myself fairly radical in my politics. I am still exploring different political models and groups but feel pretty strongly identified with anarchism. I believe in more localized, horizontally structured governance where all people are given a voice and where diversity and individual autonomy is respected and encouraged to flourish.
This directly relates to my doula work–I believe strongly in the right to choose–only pregnant person can know what is best for them. Again, I feel that my job, as a doula, is to offer my compassion to those that I work with, no matter what their situation is.
What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I love the feeling of being 100% present for someone else. When I am working, my whole self is dedicated to taking care of the person in front of me. All other superficial worries or thoughts are completely silenced.
The only doula experience I have is in abortion care and the procedure itself is only about five minutes long, so the time I had with my clients was very limited. It is amazing the kinds of connections that can be made in that short amount of time. I vividly remember the women I worked with, so many beautiful and strong women.
As abortion is such a stigmatized and controversial thing in this country, many of the women I worked with were completely alone in their experience–no family or friends knew they were pregnant, let alone getting an abortion. I was so glad to be there, offering them support, telling them how strong they were. Sadly, in many cases, the support I was able to give them was the only support these women received. This is why the work of abortion doulas is so important and so so needed.
If you could change one thing about birth, what would it be?
I would rid the birthing experience of all fear, shame, and stigma–and extend this to all reproductive experiences. Our bodies are beautiful and powerful and capable of amazing things. Unfortunately these qualities are not respected and trusted as much as they should be.