Radical Doula Profiles: Grace Rivera Roman

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!

imageGrace Rivera Roman: I am a Doula, providing care and support to NYC and Westchester moms and dad’s. A recent Mercy College graduate student with a degree in Psychology. I am also a mom of three with a passion for education and reproductive arts. Currently I am heading a homeschooling group in the Bronx where families from many backgrounds come and teaching methods come together to share and inspire one another.

What inspired you to become a doula?
My inspiration is 17 yrs in the making. For I was to go into medical school but then through my high school education I became environmentally aware and began learning about holistic living, conservation and preservation of our land. A few years later I conceived my first child and from the beginning it seemed like both my body and the system did not want me to be pregnant. I had many infections and hospitalization so but the worst was going into pre term labor and the treatment I received. Fast forward 16 yrs later, now I’m better educated, and still receiving the same treatment from the hospital. Despite my last pregnancy also being high risk and pre term, I birthed naturally. Slowly on my own I educated myself on birth and what I wanted. I knew when I was in labor even though the medical staff said no. I birthed in a hospital but I did so with no interventions, I birthed my baby myself and held her first, it was the craziest thing ever. Unfortunately, I was alone. My kids where not allowed in my room, my partner had to stay home with them. I needed a gentle, quite hand and had no one. The hospital staff wanted things their way, loud, rushed and forced. This is when I decided to stop fighting what I was supposed to do a long time ago. Go back to my natural state of helping and being of service. Help other women so they are not alone during such an amazing but vulnerable time in their lives. I became a Doula and didn’t even know it.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?

I’m a radical doula because I serve a community that doesn’t even realize that they need help. Our low births rates are rising, maternal death rates are rising, unnecessary c section rates are rising. All because there is little to no birth support to women of color, worse yet if you are low income. I am a radical doula because I support a women’s right to choose and help her learn that within those choices there are even more choices. For women of color being given choices is huge, for a white women this choices are innate for us, they must be given but there done so with boundaries and with stipulations. We women are the givers, we raise humanity yet are bound by the same birth right. I am radical because I will educate, I will serve, I will help women from all socio economic status, LGBT, teen moms, single moms, older moms, VBACs, HBACs, hospital births and everything in between. I am radical because I support birth.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
My doula philosophy is simple, women’s birth rights are theirs. Women can and will decide what it is they want for their bodies, sexual pleasure and reproduction. Women have the right to choose whether they want children or not, women have the right to choose how they will birth and how many times. How does this fit into my political beliefs? I am an activist, I will and fight for women and our birth right to birth or not however we darn please. Period. I do so by teaching and providing information to all women. I do so by demonstrating it through my own actions and decisions.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
My favorite thing about being a doula is that very split second when a women suddenly releases herself, allows herself to be one with nature, that moment when she takes that breath and you know it’s game on. That’s my fave part because you know she knows, she is working with herself and has become anointed with that primal wisdom we all carry. It’s beautiful!

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
i would change how pregnancy and birth are labeled. Hospital reference material, the media, women to women they all label birth as such a scary and painful event that must be taken care of. Yes birth can be scary, yes it is painful but it’s also beautiful, it’s also fulfilling, it’s empowering, it’s bliss and can be quite pleasurable. With support birth can be quite a journey.

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