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 Joce: My name is Joce. I’m 26 years old and have been in the business of babies and families for almost a decade. After the traumatic and at the same time beautiful birth of my son, I questioned what I knew about birth, womanhood, person-hood and so much more on issues I thought I clearly understood. When I relocated to Portland I thought I had made it to birth Mecca…but unfortunately I found that low income mothers from all walks of life, women of size, of color and young mothers aren’t just disenfranchised and underrepresented in the city itself..but they are total minorities within the birth community. It was with this gained knowledge that I created Gresham Doula Joce, a low cost and barter trade option for those minorities. I serve families in the SE Portland, Gresham and Troutdale area. It was with this gained knowledge that I created Gresham Doula Joce, a low cost and barter trade option for those minorities. I serve families in the SE Portland, Gresham and Troutdale area. Find Joce on Facebook, or at their website.
What inspired you to become a doula?
My homebirth cesarean was supported by a student midwife who stepped into the role of doula for me when no one else knew how. If I close my eyes I can still see her piercing gaze. Without words, her look told me that I was stronger than any contraction, fiercer than any scalpel. She saw in me what I had forgotten.
As a doula, I bring light to the power and drive within a birthing mother and her team.
Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
For me, the most important part of being a radical doula is sharing my skills and knowledge with disenfranchised and poorly represented communities like low income families, plus sized women, women of color, LGBT men and women and immigrants. My services are available to all families welcoming a new member, regardless of the labels and class systems we have devised.
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
My presence at a birth is my chance to pay respect to the process of creating and bringing life into this world. It is a precious moment in time that I hope to make even more positive by trying to fulfill the wishes of the laboring mother.
I feel that all too often, class systems play into who we deem “deserving” of certain services or education. I also believe we within the birthing community do not engage fully in the debates and discussions that bring about real change to the field. If we continue churning out the same information and never challenge ideas on things like unassisted birth, outdoor birth or race privilege in birth, we are no better than the medical field still providing women with 50’s non-science.
What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I feel a quote from a discussion I had with a fellow doula sums up why I love the work that I do!
“an activist doula sparks discussion where there is none, suggests alternatives to the alternative and thinks globally about birth, community and connectivity.”
If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I feel we focus too much on pregnancy being over. We consider it a burden and that birth is the final hellish moment before its all over and done with and everything goes back to normal. If we considered birth the first step on a long journey that will inevitably change the existence of those involved…I think we would respect it more as a life experience and less of a “baby making event”. The baby is the cherry!