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 Torrey: I was raised in a family of nurses, and ultimately by my single mother. I was Blessed that Mary Rose Tully was a family friend, so I learned excellent lactation support as a teenager! I attended my first birth as a teen, not knowing that I was supporting my friend intuitively and laying the foundation for my future doula work. Ten years later I officially trained with Pam England in Albuquerque where Doula.by.Donation. is primarily based. I have attended over 150 births in 3 different states and provide phone and online consults as well.
What inspired you to become a doula?
I think I was born a doula, and just didn’t figure out the name for it until I got pregnant with my son. At the beginning, I naively believed I could “change the world, one birth at a time.” That is my business motto! I have learned that to change the world, I have to educate and help entire families break generations of misinformation and sometimes abuse. This discovery is what transformed me into a radical doula.
Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
My doula practice has evolved into a trauma healing practice. In the past 10 years, I have only had 4 clients who were not survivors of childhood sexual assault, nor survivors of military sexual trauma. Two of those 4 were survivors of domestic violence.
I identify as a radical doula because I teach radical acceptance and radical ideas regarding childbirth, lactation, and autonomy. I work hard to locate women in underserved communities and encourage them to pursue doula training. I try to find representatives in each community to apprentice with me so they can take the knowledge back into their communities.
And I try to get folks comfortable talking about sex, anywhere. Because if women can reclaim their sexuality, and their autonomy, they can reclaim their birth experience. Radical, right?
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I believe every birth offers a healing experience. I believe every infant needs to have its autonomy respected, and be allowed to birth itself as it needs.
I believe our culture has a very difficult time remembering we are each souls, who happen to animate a body. Each soul has its own lessons to learn, and we have an obligation to be grateful when we are allowed to be a part of another soul’s journey.
Just as our culture fails to recognize an infant’s autonomy, we fail to recognize and respect the autonomy of women, minorities, survivors, and anyone who is “other”. I fight to shine light on these issues.
What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Asking the right questions so a woman can regain her power! Over 90% of my moms gain the confidence to challenge the state to meet the federal requirement that homebirths be covered by Medicaid in states where they are legal.
My second favorite part is lactation education, and ~70% of my moms are still breastfeeding through the third year. Watching them become lactation advocates for other women, and challenging established ideas on breastfeeding, gives me hope that we are changing the world.
If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
That homebirth mommas who say “something just doesn’t feel right” would be honored by hospital personnel instead of shamed. A woman’s intuition should be celebrated, nurtured and cultivated. Not shamed.