Radical Doula Profiles: Denise Handlarski

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 Denise Handlarski, Jewish Doula: Jewish Doula works to bring a spiritual and ritual dimension back to pregnancy and birth. I support folks who want to learn about Jewish approaches and traditions, and who want support in creating a spiritual birth plan. I work with clients all over the world via the web and support folks in the Greater Toronto Area who want in-person support at their birth. Contact Denise on the web and facebook.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I had a difficult first birth and realized I wanted spiritual material to help me through. I prepared for my second, gathering Jewish birth blessings, art, music, ritual, and visualizations. Now I want to support others who find this spiritual support useful. Birth was always a spiritual/culturally-informed experience. Medicalization has changed that. I’d like to reclaim it.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
A Radical Doula is someone who supports holistic approaches to birth, supporting the birthing person so that they have the best possible birth experience. This means feeling supported and empowered, bringing the wholeness of self to the pregnancy/birth experience.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
Women and trans/non-binary folks have a history of being marginalized and disempowered by the medical profession. Many care providers are great and many are not. A Doula helps ensure the birthing person is treated well and stays informed and empowered. My own belief is that the spiritual dimension of birth is often overlooked, when it might be just the thing someone needs to feel their birth was a positive experience.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Getting to watch the raw power of the woman/birthing person. It’s mind-blowing.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I’d want each person to feel supported and empowered, no matter what twists and turns the labor/birth takes

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