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
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.