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!
About Cherry: I am a wife and mother of two grown children. I live in Southeastern Michigan. I am passionate about all things birth-related. I AM a birth-junkie. www.facebook.com/cherry.herrick
What inspired you to become a doula?
When I was on bed-rest after a surgery, I watched lots of t.v., and got hooked on the Birth Stories series. I knew then I desperately wanted to be involved in the birth process in some capacity. I had my sights set on midwifery, and am still working towards that as well. I was a young mother and gave birth to both of my children in local hospitals. My first birth experience was traumatic, and left me wondering what I did wrong for the nurses and doctors to treat me that way. My second birth experience was much better, but I still felt like there was something missing. Now I know what it was. I needed a doula!!!
Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
One definition of radical, is “going against social norms”. I find it unfortunate that our (American) social norms regarding childbirth is giving birth in a hospital, and submitting to all kinds of unnecessary intervention. I hospital births should be the exception, not the rule. Radical, I know. Additionally, many women give birth with one or more family members or friends present, while nurses check on them periodically. Friends and family members, however well-intentioned they may be, can NOT take the place of a doula!
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I believe that a doula should be all that the laboring mother needs. A doula should provide support, physical, emotional, spiritual as necessary. She should know when to step in, and when to step back. As far as my political beliefs, I feel that there is too much governmental/institutional intervention in the labor and birth process.
What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
When I was attending a laboring friend, I looked her in the eyes and said, “You’re doing great! I’m so proud of you!” She teared up and said, “You are??”. Wow. “Of course! You’re awesome!” was my reply. It was great to see the sigh of relief as she realized that she was doing a-ok, pain and all! Seeing the miracle of a woman’s body going through all the natural motions and progressions of labor to ultimately give birth is unlike any other experience. It is a beautiful miracle.
If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
Educate every pregnant woman on her options! Too many women go through pregnancy having no idea that they have a choice as to where they can labor and give birth! They assume laboring should be done in a hospital, and birthing should be done laying flat on her back. We (doulas, midwives, moms, and self-proclaimed “birth junkies”!) need to empower women to make decisions that are right for her and her baby! Those decisions should be based on useful, correct, documented and verifiable information, not fear or intimidation.