Radical Doula Profiles: Carrie Murphy

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!

carriemurphyCarrie Murphy is a poet and birth doula currently working in Northern VA and Washington DC. In addition to her birth work, she works as a freelance writer and teacher. Contact: web and email: carriemurphydoula@gmail.com

What inspired you to become a doula?
I’ve worked in childcare off and on for the majority of my life, and I’ve wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember. I’ve also always been interested in all aspects ofpregnancy, birth, and motherhood. Becoming a doula felt like a natural fit for me, a way to combine my feminist ideals with my own interests…in a job where I’m my own boss and I don’t have to work in an office! I wanted to become a doula not just for myself, but because, as a pro-choice woman, I feel passionately that women should be supported in all of their health care decisions. Women are entitled to bodily autonomy, to bodily integrity, from birth control to the birthing room and beyond.

I became a doula because I wanted to support women on one on the most monumental days of their lives. I also became a doula to support women and their families in making their own choices about their birthing experiences—whether that means a totally unmedicated birth or a prescheduled Caesearan section. I believe that a woman can and should have the birth she wants (if that includes the use of pain medication or other medical interventions or not).

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I identify with the term radical doula first and foremost because I identify as a pro-choice feminist. I think I also like the term because of the possibilities it opens up in the realm of doula work…that being a doula can, does, and will mean much more than just supporting women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?

I believe that everyone, every woman, has inherent bodily autonomy and the right to make decisions about their own body. In my practice, I strive to make every woman (and partner, and family member) feel supported and empowered in the choices she makes about her care and her baby’s care. My doula work is informed by and is imbued with my fierce belief that women must have choice in all aspects of the reproductive process. I was a pro-choice feminist before I was ever a doula and I will be a pro-choice feminist if I ever stop my work as a doula.

What I’ve learned from doula work so far is that I cannot and will not let my personal feelings about what a birth “should” or “should not” be color the birth experiences of my clients or the caliber of my commitment to doula work. My role is to support the hopes, desires, and choices of the laboring woman and her family. Your body, your baby, your choice. Period.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I live for the moment when the mother sees the baby, that first glimpse. It gives me chills every single time!

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
Could I just somehow make it magically happen that every woman feels like a willing, informed, active participant in her own care? I’d of course like to lessen the insane level of medicalization of childbirth in current American society, but I’d start with careful, respectful, considerate care across the spectrum, for all women.


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