Radical Doula Profiles: Sarah Michelson

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!

Sarah in a black dressAbout Sarah: Hi! I’m Sarah Michelson, a St. Louis native with a rich history of fighting for reproductive justice, human rights, and labor rights. I live in South City. I enjoy attending concerts, creating herbal products, and studying birth.

I graduated from University of Missouri- St. Louis with a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Political Science and Certificate of Women and Gender Studies. I am also a midwife. I graduated from Maternidad La Luz’s MEAC-accredited one year midwifery program in March of 2014. I am a member of Midwives Alliance of North America, Friends of Missouri Midwives, and the Missouri Midwives St. Louis study group.

You can contact me by e-mailing breadandrosesmidwifery@gmail.com or by checking out my website at www.breadandrosesmidwifery.com. Thank you!

What inspired you to become a doula?
I became a doula because I was drawn specifically to work with other queer and trans folks who are not getting the quality healthcare we deserve. I want to create a safer space for other marginalized folks while providing excellent, comfortable, and continuous care.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
Categories such as race, class and gender have material consequences in the world we live in, I want to help bridge healthcare gaps created by capitalism and socially constructed ideas about our bodies through challenging social norms in birthwork.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
The phrase ‘bread and roses’ comes from a 1912 textile strike in which Rose Schneiderman said “The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.” This phrase has been used for over a century by feminists and activists, meaning that we want our sustenance but we also want beauty and we want both without compromise.

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Radical Doula Profiles: Becca Spence Dobias

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!

Becca Spence DobiasAbout Becca Spence Dobias: Becca is a doula serving the Inland Empire in Southern California. She is certified through Childbirth International and has an M.A. in Applied Women’s Studies. She is a member of Seasons Within Doula Group. She enjoys yoga, hockey, lady-centric comic books, and writing. She is a mom to a wonderful two-year-old. She can be found at continuationsdoula.com.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I had to do an internship for my Applied Women’s Studies program. A friend who is also a doula (and is also featured on this site– hi Lauren!) had just posted something about The Doula Project and I decided to contact them. I interned with them for a summer and learned how awesome doula work is, but I wasn’t sure if it was for me. When I got pregnant, I became more interested. I didn’t hire a doula but I was lucky enough to have an amazing nurse who gave me wonderful support. I decided I wanted to provide that kind of support for others.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I identify as a radical doula for many reasons. I support people of any gender identity and sexuality. I try not to use gender-specific terms or tropes as I offer support. I also consider myself radically evidence-based. Doula work is about way more than having babies. It’s about helping people have access to information and choices and to their own voices and power. In a realm where that isn’t always encouraged, it’s radical.

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Radical Doula Profiles: Alana Apfel

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!

Alana ApfelAbout Alana Apfel: I am a doula, writer and birth activist currently living in the UK. In Bristol where I live I am part of a collective of doulas offering sliding scale community birth work. I recently moved from California where I was part of the San Francisco General Doula Program and the Birthways center. Both programs provide volunteer doulas for people without means to pay. As an activist writer I gathered stories from doulas working within these organisations as well as the Bay Area Doula Project, BirthKeepers, Birth Justice Project and SQUAT. These contributions are featured in my forthcoming book Birth Work as Care Work: Stories from Activist Birth Communities published by PM Press in Spring of next year. More info can be found here.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I was brought up by a family of healers, health activists and a mother who was a midwife. I was her fourth child born at home. I have always been taught that birthing women and others who give birth are strong powerful beings who are fully capable of doing so in their own way and on their own terms. This is never something I have doubted. This conviction directly shapes my doula practice today. The wonder of giving birth and supporting others through birth has always been with me. It is my legacy and my life’s passion.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
Radical birth work for me begins with the recognition that birth, and actually all reproductive processes, are both deeply personal and highly politicised events. We cannot separete the “personal” from the “political” in birth. How we birth, and how we support others through birth, is a direct reflection of society’s politics.

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Radical Doula Profiles: Torrey Moorman

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 Torrey: I was raised in a family of nurses, and ultimately by my single mother. I was Blessed that Mary Rose Tully was a family friend, so I learned excellent lactation support as a teenager! I attended my first birth as a teen, not knowing that I was supporting my friend intuitively and laying the foundation for my future doula work. Ten years later I officially trained with Pam England in Albuquerque where Doula.by.Donation. is primarily based. I have attended over 150 births in 3 different states and provide phone and online consults as well.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I think I was born a doula, and just didn’t figure out the name for it until I got pregnant with my son. At the beginning, I naively believed I could “change the world, one birth at a time.” That is my business motto! I have learned that to change the world, I have to educate and help entire families break generations of misinformation and sometimes abuse. This discovery is what transformed me into a radical doula.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
My doula practice has evolved into a trauma healing practice. In the past 10 years, I have only had 4 clients who were not survivors of childhood sexual assault, nor survivors of military sexual trauma. Two of those 4 were survivors of domestic violence.

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A Little Year End Love Letter

Scrabble tiles spelling out "love"
Samantha Celera/Flickr

Hi dearest Radical Doula fans,

I know, I know. Posts on this blog have gotten rare these days, especially if they aren’t Radical Doula Profiles. It’s just the nature of my life and how blogging has evolved, I think. I hope you don’t take my lack of writing as a sign that I don’t care, or have forgotten about my little labor of love (now almost 9 years old!). Radical Doula is still my home, still represents the intersection of all of the issues I care about most. But when I write, these days, it’s for other outlets that require a more journalistic approach, and also allow me to explore topics outside of the niche of this site. You can find most of my writing over at Colorlines, and sometimes other places. The best way to keep up with that is to join my email list, where I send almost-monthly notes with links to my writing. I also post to the Radical Doula Facebook page pretty often, so that’s another good way to stay in touch.

But this site continues, as a blog and a resource. I have plans to do a design refresh to make RD more reader friendly in 2016.  I’m hoping to get some feedback from all of you on what you might like to see, so stay tuned for a very exciting survey! The Radical Doula Guide continues to sell well, and even three years later I still love putting each one in the mail to all of you. So far I’ve sold over 2000 copies, and often get lovely emails about how the guide has helped you with your doula journey. Thank you!

Meanwhile I’ve kept up with the doula trainings and volunteer programs lists–thanks to everyone who helps me keep them current! If you have information to share about either, just fill out one of these two forms (doula trainings and volunteer programs) and I’ll consider adding them to the site.

I have a bunch of great Radical Doula Profiles coming next year as well. I hope you enjoy those as much as I do! I love seeing what kind of doulas are in the world and why it is they consider themselves to be “radical.” I also hear anecdotally that these profiles help bring potential clients to doulas. If you are interested in being part of the series, just fill out this form and I’ll get you in.

It’s been a tough year in so many ways. I put together a round-up of 15 women of color who did amazing things this year for Colorlines. Writing it provided me with a lot of hope and optimism about the state of the world–perhaps reading it will offer you the same.

Thanks, as always, for your amazing kick-ass radical doula work, for supporting me and this little blog of mine, and for making the world a more just place. You rock.

Abrazos and happy new year!

Radical Doula Profiles: Simiya Sudduth

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 Simiya Sudduth: Simiya is an ICTC trained, Full Circle Doula, mother of two multi-racial, breastfed children, aspiring midwife and visual artist, currently serving families in St. Louis, Missouri. Focused on providing culturally competent birth support to a wide variety of communities, Simiya offers her services on a sliding fee scale. She is passionate about serving families of color, teens, victims of trauma and sexual assault, single parents, low-income families, LGBTQ people and immigrant communities.

Sage Moon Doula
St. Louis, MO
Full Spectrum Birth and Postpartum Doula Services, Placenta Encapsulation and Lactation Support

www.sagemoondoula.com
contact@sagemoondoula.com

What inspired you to become a doula?
I am called to birthwork because of the dire need of culturally competent birth services. I am a firm believer in accessible, culturally relevant birth services as a means to eliminate racial and health disparities in underserved communities. I’ve seen first hand how race and income can negatively impact childbirth. Like many doulas, my personal birthing experiences informed my decision to become a doula. I was called to this work after the traumatic birth of my first child in 2011. I was a low income mom, in my very early 20’s, right after college graduation and planning for a natural, intervention-free birth in the hospital. I chose a hospital birth because I could not afford to pay out of pocket for a homebirth, my insurance provider did not cover homebirth with a midwife and there were no birth centers in my area at the time. After a failed induction and 3 days of highly medicated and managed labor all of my plans and preparation for a beautiful, natural birth went out the window and I ended up with an emergency c-section in the middle of the night. I became part of the growing statistic in the U.S. of women of color subjected to unnecessary c-sections. During my 3 days of labor in the hospital I experienced racism, lack of informed consent, forced medical procedures from nurses and a resident, blatant disrespect and inhumane treatment. After I achieved a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) with my second daughter I decided to go forward with my doula training. I traveled to Portland, OR and attended my 30 hour training with my infant daughter who was 5 months old at the time.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
am a radical doula because I believe that birth support is a right and doulas should be accessible to all communities. I identify as a radical Black feminist and I understand the impact that the intersections of race, class, sexuality and gender identity have on access to healthcare, education and resources. I understand the impact those intersections can have on pregnancy outcomes and the health of a birthing parent and their child. All birth outcomes deserve compassionate support. I am dedicated to supporting families through miscarriage, abortion, loss, stillbirth, adoption and full term birth and making my services available to low and no income families.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
All people are entitled to safe, informed and consent based health care. I believe that culturally competent pregnancy, birth, lactation and parenting support are fundamental rights. Access to accurate information, resources and education are requirements for the empowerment of all types of families. Every community needs supportive and inclusive providers that represent and reflect the communities that they serve. As a doula, I am committed to fully serving and supporting birthing parents and their families in a wide variety of birth outcomes. I am committed to providing support, education, materials and resources that are inclusive and diverse in representation of family structure, race, culture, sexuality, gender identity and economic status. My doula work is an essential part of my feminist and social justice praxis.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I am honored to be invited into the sacred space of birth for so many families. I enjoy working with many different families, offering them information and education on pregnancy, birth and childcare. I enjoying bonding with the families I serve by giving them my love and support. There is absolutely nothing better than being present when parents meet their baby for the first time! It is so amazing to bear witness to birth and watching a new human arrive Earthside!

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I’d start by eliminating the harmful impact that patriarchal oppression has on pregnancy, childbirth, lactation and menstruation. Pregnancy, birth, lactation and menstruation are sacred, powerful events that should be honored as such by removing all of the associated stigma, shame, coercion, fear and secrecy. No mother should be shamed for breastfeeding her child. Childbirth in the hospital should not be marked by forced procedures, lack of informed consent, patriarchal domination and dehumanizing treatment. Positive change starts with recognizing and honoring the bodily autonomy of birthing parents and trusting pregnancy and birth.

Radical Doula Profiles: Liz Jones

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!

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 12.57.57 PMAbout Liz Jones: I am a labor and postpartum doula and certified lactation counselor located in Baltimore, MD. I am also the founder of the community doula collective, Wildcat Birth. As a collective, we work to provide doula care to the whole community by offering our services on a sliding scale and providing volunteer services to birthing parents with significant barriers to care. I can be contacted at liz@wildcatbirth.com or www.wildcatbirth.com.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I was inspired to become a doula by the birth of my son and an abortion I had two years later. I had always felt passionate about reproductive justice, but these experiences really opened my eyes to the need for support across the spectrum of pregnancy. I am continually shocked by the stigma pregnant people face through a wide range of choices and experiences and want to do something about it.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I identify with the term radical doula because my work is firmly grounded in my ideals of social and reproductive justice. I am fiercely pro-choice and work hard to make my services available to everyone, regardless of funds. I believe in growing communities not profits, and believe that this work is both sustainable and important.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
My favorite part about being a doula is holding space for birthing parents and helping them recognize their strength in trying times. I love being another person in a birthing parent’s corner, because I believe that you can never have too much support.