Radical Doula Profiles: Shannon Schermerhorn

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 Shannon Schermerhorn: I am an out of the ordinary homemaker. My first 4 kids were born at home with a midwife and the last 3 were freebirths. Homeschooling all my kids, the first 4 have graduated and now are working and/or going to school. The younger 3 are still at home doing their studies. My days are filled with enjoying my family, gardening, making meals from scratch, reading, lifting weights, being thankful, and simply….loving life. I am located in Bellflower, California and my website is www.adrivenwoman.net.

What inspired you to become a doula?
Our family has always been involved in community. Frequently I was asked questions pertaining to birth, breastfeeding, baby wearing and parenting in general. I am always just as excited to share and encourage as the woman who is asking. After many years of supporting women, I decided I should start my postpartum doula training and become certified.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
Is the term RADICAL DOULA synonymous with BLACK SHEEP? Always following the beat of my own drum, I did things most of my friends and family did not. When asked by another woman about my homebirths, I was asked by the elders to not speak, I spoke anyway. When I was asked to sit in the back of our fellowship and breastfeed, I refused and stayed right where I was and continued to discreetly (this was 25 years ago) breastfeed. I have mothered in a different fashion than what many have deemed as normal-and it’s not that I have wanted to call attention to myself, but rather, I have ONLY wanted for myself and other women to be respected and supported in doing what works best for US, for every woman and situation is different.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
In our society, staying home and mothering as I have been able to do, is not always possible, nor wanted. Some women must work and some women want to use their gifts and talents outside their four walls. All women, children, and men deserve care and support regardless of age, gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or economic status.

I do believe fervently, in the value of the home and family, but today that often looks very different than traditional families of our parents. 2 moms, 3 moms, 1 dad, 3 dads, grandma, uncle, is doesn’t matter….as a doula, I want to help my family adjust physically, spiritually, and mentally into a new beginning with baby. I have found that most problems a new family experiences can be resolved by coming up with solutions that are respectful to all and then, making a game plan.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
My favorite thing about being a doula, most definitely, is observing the parents “ahaaaa” moments. Moments where they become aware that they REALLY DO HAVE THIS! And as I am cheering, momma and partner look at one another, their physical frames melt, they smile, inhale, and exhale….while grabbing each others hand….that is my favorite part!

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
If I could change one thing I would URGE women to take the lead in educating THEMSELVES on growing, birthing, and feeding their baby. My couples who have spent time learning on their own through books, videos, and contact with other like-minded couples are more confident, sure, and able to stand strong if and when challenges present themselves.

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