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 Rachel: Rachel is a full spectrum doula, reproductive justice and healing warrior. She is based in Austin, TX. For the last 15 years she has supported parents as a doula, nanny, childcare giver and friend. As a childcare giver she founded La Semilla Childcare Collective a radical childcare collective for parents and children of color in Austin in 2008. She believes childcare and birthing on your own terms is a right. Presently she serves as the Birth Support Program Director for all women of color led Mama Sana Vibrant Woman where she coordinates the volunteer birth companion program prioritizing queer people of color and people of color to increase the number of birth workers of color who provide culturally respectful care. She is also currently a student midwife working towards her Certified Professional Midwife license.
What inspired you to become a doula?
The pregnancy and birth of one of my best friends. At the time I was spending alot of time with her, she is a single Black mama and her partner was incarcerated. The experience she had when our community stepped in to support her around her childbirth was life changing for me. Despite her obstacles she had a healthy happy birth and baby. It was through that experience that I realized despite our situations we could create the world we want to see. The act of providing emotional and physical support during pregnancy and childbirth was our tradition and a powerful role in community.
Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I identify with the term radical doula because for me it synthesizes my politics and my work. As a afrolatinxindigena woman it is important to talk about my work as a political act and form of solidarity. I am a doula because the medical institutions sterilize the communal and spiritual aspects out of birth and healthcare. We need life and spirit in these places as a part of being our whole selves. As a radical doula I play a vital role in challenging these institutions that perpetuate trauma and sickness.
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
Birth is physical, spiritual and sacred. People of color have always known this. I practice as a doula in order to reclaim, remember, and revitalize the spirit of our communities. I reclaim my role as a birth companion and healer, remember my traditional practices and knowledge, and revitalize myself and the people I work with in order to challenge white supremacy and trauma. As people of color who are experiencing genocide we have a right to care for ourselves exactly how we want and desire despite race/gender/sexuality. The white capitalist power structures were created and upheld to destroy our personal and collective Power. In order to liberate ourSelves we must reclaim our practices around birth and healing. We must remember the wisdom of our ancestors in order to survive and regain balance. Through this revitalize our spirits, selves, and communities.
What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Working together and in solidarity with the birthing person! Working with their family/friends. The relationships and trust that are created during childbirth are lasting and authentic. And I love babies!
If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?That every person despite situation or location has a doula, or support person at whatever point they choose.