Radical Doula Profiles: Marleen Jett

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 Marleen Jett: Hello there! My name is Marleen and I am a birth and postpartum doula serving the Los Angeles area. I trained with Doula Trainings International (DTI). I am also a member of the DTI social justice DTI committee which is a safe place where we try to think of ways to make the birth community more inclusive for all genders, races, classes, sexual orientations and bodies. I believe that birth is a natural process that can occur without medical interventions. Though medical interventions is sometimes needed, it’s my job to provide evidence based information so families can decided what is best for their birth.

What inspired you to become a doula?
Before I started my path as a doula I was a childcare provider. I cared for newborns, infants, toddlers and preteens. While working with new parents and their kids, my fascination with childbirth grew. On my free time you could easily find me reading or watching a documentary on birth. So I decided to become a doula.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I believe in fighting for marginalize pregnant people to have a safe space in the birthing community. I want them to feel empowered, informed and in control of their own body and pregnancy.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I believe in total autonomy of the birthing person regardless of my personal views. I feel like if the birthing person doesn’t make their own decisions they will not feel empowered or satisfied with their birth story.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Becoming a doula has filled my life with so much joy. I get to witness the most sacred time of someone’s life while giving emotional support. I believe in the true sense of Holistic care; which means considering the complete person physically and psychologically. I do this by educating families on plant based nutrition and the importance of self care.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I hate how white woman centered the birthing community is. I have witness many leaders in birthing community be very publicly Transphobic. I also have been in birth community where I myself as a POC didn’t feel included or welcomed. I would love to see more spaces inclusive to all.

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Radical Doula Profiles: Jessica Jimenez

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 Jessica Jimenez: I am a queer-identified postpartum doula taking clients in the Los Angeles area. DONA trained in New York by Jackie Kelleher, the woman who literally wrote the book on postpartum doula support. I am a trained and certified educator with a degree in Art Education, which is an awesome background to have as a doula because I have tons of teaching tools paired with a creative practice. Born to help others, you will usually find me mentoring, training, and educating outside of working with clients. Website: www.losangelestribe.com

What inspired you to become a doula?
Why I became a doula is two parts. One part, because I loved working with families as an educator. However, as an educator, there was already so much history to each child and family before I met them. I wanted to be there at the beginning of a family to help them have an amazing start. The second part is because there are gaps in the care new families receive and I have seen, in my friends and family, how those gaps can negatively affect the development of parents and children. I am a born nurturer and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my life than to fill those gaps of care to provide families with a lifeline at such a vulnerable time.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I am a radical doula because I advocate for change. I stand up and educate when I see unfair treatment. I am a radical doula because I live to be the change I want to see in the world.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
The best thing about being a doula is serving my clients. Lifting their spirits, cheering them on, lightening their load, teaching them new skills, being a calm presence, hearing their stories, building their confidence. I am happy as a human when I can help others to thrive. I mean, what’s not to love about being a doula?

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I would change the blanket-style care in birth and postpartum. I would change the typical way people are treated in the same way no matter their personal preferences, fears, or identity. This method of care undermines parents and can strip them of their confidence to birth and parent the way they know they will be most successful. I want to see more personal, individualized care.

Radical Doula Profiles: Rachel Caballero

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.

Radical Doula Profiles: Andi Johnson

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 Andi Johnson: I am a full-spectrum doula in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I provide birth doula services, placenta encapsulation, loss support, abortion support, postpartum doula services, and birth pool rentals. I love writing, roller derby, and recently took up burlesque. I can be found at www.offbeatdoula.com and on various social media platforms under @offbeatdoula.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I became a doula after my own experiences with birthing. I realized that people giving birth need more support, more information, and a medium for their voices to be heard.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
The term radical doula has alway resonated with me. I am vocal about my inclusiveness and political beliefs surrounding birth. As a queer, polyamorous woman, I am sensitive and knowledgeable of the variety of identities and genders, and I do not discriminate. I am a pro-choice feminist and I believe that everyone should be their authentic selves without fear of judgement.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I believe that women should feel empowered, and that they deserve the information needed to make informed decisions. I believe that birthing women deserve the emotional and physical support they need to feel safe, comfortable, and trusted. My doula philosophy is based off of empowerment, security, trust, intuition, and choice.

This ties in to my political beliefs around women’s rights, reproductive justice, and equality. I will fight for women’s rights regarding their bodies and the marginalization they experience through everyday discrimination. I also will stand up for my LGBT family and believe we have a long way to go until we are equal. I am so very lucky to be in Canada, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2005, and planned parenthood is not even a question.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
My favourite thing is seeing a family make choices confidently and using their voices. I love assisting women in letting go and trusting their bodies. I love helping women find empowerment.

Radical Doula Profiles: Megan Othling

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 Megan Othling: I am Megan Othling, a birth doula and childbirth educator in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am married and have four young children who I home school. I’m also a dancer and writer. I support birthing people and their partners and families whether they choose to birth at home, birth center, or hospital. I have always been fascinated by pregnancy and birth, and I love walking through this sacred time with expectant families. I want to provide support to anyone who wants it, regardless of race, sexual orientation, or economic status. One of my ultimate goals is to start an organization that provides childbirth education and doula support for incarcerated persons in New Mexico. My email is megan@womanofvalorbirth.com and my website is womanofvalorbirth.com.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I decided to pursue becoming a birth doula after the birth of my third child. I saw the importance of not only physical support, but also emotional and informational support. I believe that birth is a normal, physiological event and that birthing people should be treated with respect and the acknowledgment that they are the experts on their own bodies. Pregnancy and birth are not diseases and ought not to be laced with fear. As a doula, I hope to ensure parents of their power and ability to make the best decisions for themselves and their children.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I identify with the term radical doula because I think that how we treat birth and birthing people is a reflection and predictor of how we value all of human life and experience. I want to provide all people with the respect and support they need to make choices about their pregnancies, births, and parenting journeys. I feel this is very important for incarcerated people because they have been stripped of agency and respect in many ways.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
My doula philosophy is that pregnancy and birth are a normal part of being human and that birthing people and their families are fully equipped to make decisions and accomplish the births that are important to them. Of course, birth is unpredictable, but owning our decisions and realizing our strength are very important. Another large part of my philosophy is that every person deserves to be seen, acknowledged, and valued. This is also the foundation of my broader political beliefs. People need to be seen and listened to and have their humanity affirmed regardless of personal beliefs or choices.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
My favorite thing about being a doula is seeing pregnant and birthing people transform into parents through taking ownership of their experience. I believe that those who experience loss and those who choose to place their children for adoption are also parents, who have made real parenting decisions and a real life transformation.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I would want all women to have the knowledge that they are in charge of their pregnancy, birth, and parenting decisions. There is no one who can truly “allow” or “not allow” them to do anything regarding their own health.

Radical Doula Profiles: Miajenell Peake

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 Miajenell Peake: I am a native of Memphis, Tennessee but moved to Georgia where I completed high school and graduated with a double major in psychology and women’s studies from Georgia State University. Shortly after I graduated, I joined the Peace Corps as a health educator in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador. Here, I worked with local Ecuadorian women and adolescents to promote awareness in various topics including healthy pregnancies, cultural diversity, bullying, self esteem, healthy relations, and healthy balanced diets. After my service, I moved to Nashville to complete my masters in public health and health policy at Meharry Medical College. I currently live in Memphis with my partner. I can be reached at miapeake0330@gmail.com.

What inspired you to become a doula?
For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion to be of service to women. While pursing my education, I worked as a domestic violence shelter advocate, reproductive health specialist for women, and a crisis counselor. All occupations have forced me to serve women in very different areas. I decided to be a doula because I whole-heartedly believe that all women and families should have the right to bring a child in the world with the utmost support, education and peace. I hope to use my very own experiences to ensure women receive just that.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
To me, radical doula means meeting the woman where ever she is in life and serving her there. My opinions and beliefs might be different from her opinions and beliefs. However, her wants and desires are more than important than mines and she deserves to be heard. Whether she wants a natural, homebirth, epidural, abortion, cesarian, adoption- she deserves to have a doula to support her there in an unbiased non judgmental environment.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
My motto is “meeting people where they are!”. Having empathy and respect for each and every person. Despite differences, all deserve equity. Equity goes far beyond equality.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Being apart of their transition in life- from woman to mother.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
Birth is natural and shouldn’t be seen as this medicalized phenomenon. I would take the fear out of it and replace it with education, awareness and tranquility

Radical Doula Profiles: Rory O’Brien

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 Rory O’Brien: I’m a genderqueer doula working in the DC Metro area with a passion for supporting LGBTQ families grow. I am currently a pre-certified labor and postpartum doula with DTI and ProDoula, and expect to complete certification by March 2017. In addition to working as a labor and postpartum doula, I hope to soon provide supportive services for LGBTQ people and families seeking surrogacy, adoption, and abortion. I can be contacted at rorypadraig@gmail.com or by visiting my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RoryOBrienDoula/

In addition to my doula practice, I am a faculty member of the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program at American University, a sex-positive educator with Lotus Blooms, and a skilled expert in violence prevention. I hold a Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health from Washington University in St. Louis.

What inspired you to become a doula?
As a public health social worker, I am passionate about filling the gaps in services that are offered to my LGBTQ community. After learning about doula work through friends and colleagues, I recognized a need and felt that I could meet it.

On a personal note, I also felt separated from the birth world despite my long-term involvement in movements for reproductive and sexual justice. I saw my doula practice as a way of being involved in a truly incredible chapter of people’s lives. I feel incredibly honored to be welcomed into this work and world.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I identify as a radical doula because I am a doula who supports the birthing person in achieving the most fulfilling birth possible, however the birthing person sees fit. I support varied family arrangements, including same-sex, trans and genderqueer, polyamorous, single, and asexual people and families. I support people through labor and postpartum and I hope to support people through adoption, surrogacy, and abortion – however people choose to expand or not expand their families, I want to be available to them to support them through that choice.

I am radical in my perspective on birth, my methods of support, and my commitment to this work. I advocate for the right of every birthing person to self-determination.

Finally, my work as a doula breaks gender boundaries. As a genderqueer and male doula, I distort perceptions of who can provide care and compassion and I present a model to other male-bodied people that directly opposes violence and control over the bodies of women, queers, trans, and people of color. I am proud to represent new ways of being in this world.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I honor the self-determination of LGBTQ people. This alone sets me apart in placing trust in the abilities of LGBTQ people to parent. I believe that we all have the right to choose what we do with our bodies, and that we all deserve respect and support in times of beauty and strife. I fully support the choices of the people I serve, with regards to how and whether to have sex, give birth, have an abortion, breastfeed, parent alone, adopt, alter our bodies, and do any other thing that is of a personal and intimate nature.

I support you in making that choice and I will advocate on your behalf to ensure that you can make that choice now and in the future. I will stand in the streets, call my representatives, publish editorials, and draft policy. If you ask me, I will happily raise up your voice so that we might change these systems together.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I love the idea of supporting people to express themselves confidently in the face of serious challenges. I am excited to be a part of this momentous occasion, to see the excitement, joy, and triumph of a new family.

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 set a new rule: pregnancy and birth can be challenging and scary, so people going through this experience deserve our support, not our negativity. I want all birthing people to be surrounded by empathy and encouragement.