Radical Doula Profiles: Shelton Livingston

Woman with long hair and babyAbout Shelton Livingston LM, CPM: I am a Licensed Midwife and doula in Marin County, CA. Ive been attending births now for 20 years as a midwife, doula and mother. Sheltonrain@gmail.com. 415-300-7329

What inspired you to become a doula?
By chance I was invited to a home birth at age 16. I had previously attended the birth of my brother in the hospital and noticed the extreme difference in care. These experiences woke me up to the realization that birth is a natural event that has been happening since the beginning of humanity and people need to be treated with respect during birth. The birth EXPERIENCE is a huge part of the outcome, I recognized that and started attending more and more births.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I am committed to changing the birth practices in our culture. If it happens one family at a time, so be it.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I believe that how we birth reflects how we live as a society and culture and its important to help families birth in safe and respectful ways. I believe that personal autonomy and freedom are a birthright, this should not be undermined during birth. Informed consent is key and the power dynamics we are all used to should be eliminated during birth rather than inflated.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
It doesn’t feel like work. I love that i just enjoy my time and I love seeing the babies grow up too.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
Oooh, hmm. I suppose that I would change the way people go into it. Demystify. I wish birth wasn’t so removed from most peoples lives so that they could go into it having more confidence and knowledge instead of a 9 month crash course the first time.

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