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 trained with DONA International in Brooklyn, NY, and is now excited to offer her services to the greater Baltimore area. After her formal training, Rachel dove into her doula practice by sharing and honing her skills at Wyckoff Hospital, in an area of Brooklyn where doulas were scarce. Rachel continues to grow her skills through her current training as a Lamaze Instructor and International Childbirth Education Association Educator.
What inspired you to become a doula?
I have always been passionate about creation, and see birth as its ultimate manifestation. Through a long road of exploration, I discovered birth work as a way to share and positively impact acts of creation.
Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
Empowering women is inherently radical. By encouraging women to reclaim their rights and abilities as birthers, we are creating a community of women who take ownership of their bodies.
I also work with trans individuals and people all along the gender spectrum. I openly acknowledge that not all birthers are women. In a similar light, encouraging humans of all gender identities and expressions to be free of inhibitions and own a profound experience of the flesh radically shifts our birth culture to a place of openness and acceptance.
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
All people should be able to own their bodily experiences with compassion, joy, and love. While I am a promoter a intervention-free childbirth whenever possible, I believe that a successful birth is defined by the birther. It is unfortunate that many of today’s political structures have stolen bodily autonomy, especially from women and trans individuals. Because my doula practice is focused on restoring environments conducive to the birther’s individual choices and inherent ability to birth, it a step towards restoring individual autonomy of the flesh.
What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
As a doula, I focus on the creation of environments. In addition to physical and emotional comfort measures, I help a birther to rewrite the social rules of a space to whatever is most conducive to their individual labor. Watching someone free of inhibitions brings me a sacred joy that could only be given by such a profound experience.
If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I long to abolish the typical image a woman birthing in first world maternity care: On her back, feet in stirrups, crying in agony – A suffering patient in need of a savior. This image has at best frightened and at worst traumatized those preparing for birth. I would replace these images with strong, capable, and joyful birthers.