This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Go here to provide your responses to the profile questions and I’ll include you!
Elyana can be described using the words activist, feminist, radical, compassionate, creative and connected. She brings her diverse background and skills in herbal medicine, communication, sex education, earth-based ritual, counseling and more to her doula practice. She has worked in many different contexts as an ally for folks all along the spectrum. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website.
What inspired you to become a doula?
Sexuality has been a main thread in my life for as long as I can remember. I consider sexuality to be at the foundation of what makes a culture thrive and struggle. I am committed to the movement towards freedom to express our sexuality and reproductive rights in diverse and varied ways. A big focus in my life is to weave an understand of systems oppression and participate in the stories of liberating ourselves from these systems.
My work as a doula began long before I attended any training or births. Being a caregiver is part of my identity, a role that I play with my friends, family and community.
Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I identify as a radical doula because of my commitment to an anti-oppressive practice including people of all colors, gender identity, sexual orientation, class and other marginalized groups. For me, bringing “radical” into the doula world entails bringing an analysis of current systems affecting reproductive health & justice and working to engage more authentic and empowering ways of birth, abortion and everything in between.
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
For thousands of years traditional cultures around the world have guided new mothers in their experience of childbirth — primarily in a context of home and community. Interventions were rarely used, and contrary to popular belief, most births which happened naturally this way, resulted in healthy mothers and healthy babies. In today’s world we are exposed to the medical industrial complex and all the images and messages about birth that come along with that. This becomes a problem, not because of the services that hospitals offer, but because of the all too common infringement on a persons right to choose how they birth their child. I am not here to promote any particular choice to be made. My foundational belief is that people have the right to choose: if, how, where and with whom they will birth their child. Much of the birthing experience cannot be controlled, (which can be a scary or exciting thing) so it is important that we a re empowered to make informed and consensual decisions. My views, as described above, are founded in a radical analysis of the modern capitalist industrial complex and all the ways it affects peoples lives. Birth is unfortunately just one of many examples of places that our patriarchal culture has invaded and robbed us of our rights. My guiding philosophy in working with folks is in discovering what a sense of safety looks like for them and reclaiming this connection to comfort and support that has been principle in the childbearing process for all of time.