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!
Eliza has provided doula services in the Dominican Republic, Colorado, and Nepal. Her experience as an international doula has inspired her to seek further training. In becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife, she hopes to train birth attendants in underdeveloped areas to provide safer pregnancy care and to reduce the astounding rates of maternal and infant mortality. Despite seeking further education, she plans to continue providing accessible doula care as part of her practice, as being with women during labor is her passion. Eliza is now based out of Massachusetts and travels frequently.
What inspired you to become a doula?
I became a doula by chance. I hadn’t heard the term “doula” when I was required to take a training before doing a medical internship in the Dominican Republic. After taking the workshop and attending my first birth, it was clear to me that birth work was my calling. I sought additional training and accepted a year-long position as a prenatal educator and doula for immigrant, refugee, and low-income populations in Denver, Colorado. Currently, I am providing support at births at a rural hospital in Nepal.
Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I once asked someone about the high rates of maternal and fetal mortalities in underdeveloped countries and was given a simple answer: it’s just how it is. Sure, it’s how it is, but it is not how it has to be. Birth care and outcomes are far from equal in our world. As a radical doula, my work focuses on making high quality care more accessible and questioning the standards of birth care as they exist in communities across the globe. Acknowledging an unacceptable condition and committing to changing it – that’s radicalism.
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
A doula’s primary goal should be to provide continuous compassionate and nonjudgmental support and to reduce fear of labor and childbirth. Part of providing care should be empowering people to make their own decisions by providing accurate information. As a doula, I offer empathetic support and unbiased guidance but overall, I encourage women to use their knowledge, trust their bodies, and take control.
What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
When I first enter a room, figuring out how to manage the energy in the room by intuiting the laboring woman’s needs is exciting. It feels like an art form. I have also had women tell me that I reduced their perceived pain during labor – and that feels like a superpower!
If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
There needs to be a more sensitive application of Western medicine to pregnancy care. I have seen Western medicine save lives, but I have also seen it lead to major complications. I’d like to see a balance where providers hone skills in both natural techniques and the appropriate use of medical intervention. This balance, I believe, is the modern art of birth work.