Radical Doula Profiles: Teresa Bree Interlicchia

Smiling person with short hairAbout Teresa Bree Interlicchia: I’m a homeschooling mama to two beautiful babes, and I work in partnership with my dear friend Cris as a postpartum doula and class-offerer at Rally Doulas. I have a BA in History and am an avid devourer of folk-herbalism, folk-tales, oral histories, and all things associated with the normal people in History. We offer our work in the Finger Lakes to Rochester area of New York State. Website: http://www.rallydoulas.com

What inspired you to become a doula?
When I birthed my first child, 11-ish years ago, I was one of the first in my community to have a child. It seemed like everyone else was still playing in punk bands and living a pretty free lifestyle and postpartum hit me as a very difficult transition. I struggled with breastfeeding, I struggled with postpartum anxiety, I struggled. A lot.  As my friends became parents, I offered support. I helped with breastfeeding. I answered questions. I brought up the tough things that so often get skipped over when people visit postpartum folks. I wanted to be real and reinforce that all of the feelings are normal and should not be judged or dismissed.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
My goal as a postpartum doula is always to work myself out of a job. My long term goal (which class-offering is a huge part of) is to help people remember how to doula each other. I do not hold the belief that the role of Doula is one that can only be held by a “certified professional”. This idea is so new in our culture. I think that we are all capable of fulfilling the needs that parents have if we learn to communicate properly, remember how to receive, and drop our feelings of “not-enough-ness”. We need each other. I have done years of training (book learning, hands on learning, and mentorship) but I am not certified by a governing body to do postpartum work. And that is kind of by choice. This feels good (and radical) to me.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I think that we need to become re-connected in our communities. While I see the huge resource that the internet is, it is also doing us a huge disservice in our day to day interactions. There is likely someone on your very street or in your apartment building that could support you during postpartum (life) in someway! We need to re-connect with the people who are physically around us! And we need to make asking for help a normal and non-judged action. This also extends to my broader political (and social) beliefs. We all have skills. We all have things to offer. And we all need help. Let’s re-connect in our community. Let’s re-build physical connections. Let’s barter and trade our skills and our goods.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I love being a gentle support that nudges parents in the direction of finding their confidence and voice. Most folks know what instinctually feels right when caring for new babes, they just don’t know how to hear that voice of knowing. We are so inundated with experts and websites and books…. we forget to pause and go to our gut. I love helping parents who want to breastfeed be successful in it. And I love listening to parents talk about all of the feelings and concerns and joys of caring for babes!

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I would erase, in every parent, the weighing feeling that asking for help equals admitting defeat. We were never meant to go through the experiences of life alone. Historically, there have been social support systems in place to help with all of the thresholds from life to death. It is only very recently that we have turned these roles of support over to professionals and certified people.
I would instill the memory in every brain of every person in society that we are all capable of helping, and that we are all worthy of receiving help. And more bartering and trade!

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