Radical Doula Profiles: Sarah Michelson

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!

Sarah in a black dressAbout Sarah: Hi! I’m Sarah Michelson, a St. Louis native with a rich history of fighting for reproductive justice, human rights, and labor rights. I live in South City. I enjoy attending concerts, creating herbal products, and studying birth.

I graduated from University of Missouri- St. Louis with a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Political Science and Certificate of Women and Gender Studies. I am also a midwife. I graduated from Maternidad La Luz’s MEAC-accredited one year midwifery program in March of 2014. I am a member of Midwives Alliance of North America, Friends of Missouri Midwives, and the Missouri Midwives St. Louis study group.

You can contact me by e-mailing breadandrosesmidwifery@gmail.com or by checking out my website at www.breadandrosesmidwifery.com. Thank you!

What inspired you to become a doula?
I became a doula because I was drawn specifically to work with other queer and trans folks who are not getting the quality healthcare we deserve. I want to create a safer space for other marginalized folks while providing excellent, comfortable, and continuous care.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
Categories such as race, class and gender have material consequences in the world we live in, I want to help bridge healthcare gaps created by capitalism and socially constructed ideas about our bodies through challenging social norms in birthwork.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
The phrase ‘bread and roses’ comes from a 1912 textile strike in which Rose Schneiderman said “The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.” This phrase has been used for over a century by feminists and activists, meaning that we want our sustenance but we also want beauty and we want both without compromise.

Birthwork is the fight for autonomy over normal life processes, specifically during the childbearing years. The universal midwifery tradition is to build practices based on reciprocity, continuity of care, consent, and support. As both a doula and a midwife, I work to maintain natural life cycles through community-based knowledge and love. Birthworkers labor for access to safer options and better outcomes with self determination over our own bodies and communities. We take a holistic view of family through a social context, and work to create open and dynamic spaces and roles for ourselves and each other. This must include continuing education, expertise in counseling, and playing supportive roles during normal, healthy, and safe childbirth experiences.

This is the struggle of birthwork.

“Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too.”

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
One of the best parts of being a doula is the special moment that sometimes happens after a parent has had their baby, and they are holding the baby and everything else melts away for them. This welcoming of new life is so beautiful and touching, and a breathtaking experience to be able to watch.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
The first step I would take to create safer and healthier experiences of pregnancy and birth would be to start universal comprehensive sexuality education programs that are inclusive of the LGBTQQIIAA spectrum, that focus specifically on sex positivity and healthy relationships, and that lead to more open gender roles, especially during the childbearing years.

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