Five holiday gift ideas for the doula in your life

I’ve never done a gift guide before, but this year it just seems like there are so many great doula-related books and causes to support. So in case you’re building your own holiday gift list, or looking for a fun gift for the doula in your life, here are a few suggestions! I purposely picked gifts that can be purchased directly from individual artists and business owners, rather than all the many doula-related gifts one could find at corporate retailers. Have other suggestions? Leave them in comments!

1. The Radical Doula Guide: A Political Primer for Full Spectrum Pregnancy and Childbirth Support ($12)

Photo of Radical Doula Guides in boxesYou probably saw this one coming! But seriously, the incredible support I’ve received since publishing this guide in August has been humbling. I’m so honored that so many of you have purchased a copy. This is the first time my work at Radical Doula has generated any income, and it makes a huge difference in my ability to keep it running and invest more time in it.

There are currently 0 copies left of the initial 500 I printed this summer. New shipment in! Plenty of copies available. So order yours (or one for a doula friend/family member) today!

If you don’t know, the guide is a great resource for anyone interested in doula work, doing doula work, or just curious about the politics surrounding the experience of pregnancy and birth in the US. It is US centric, but I think the ideas may apply to folks living in other countries (I’ve sent quite a few copies abroad).


2. Hot Pants: Do It Yourself Gynecology, Herbal Remedies ($5)

Picture of Hot PantsPati Garcia (aka Chula Doula) gets the credit for gifting me a copy of this awesome zine. It was created by two herbalist/activists in Montreal in 1999, and Pati has taken on the task of printing and distributing it. It’s a great beginners guide into using herbs to treat gynecological issues–a great resource for anyone, but especially doulas interested in learning about herbs.

The first sentences of Hot Pants says it all I think: “Patriarchy sucks. It’s robbed us of our autonomy and much of our history. We believe it’s integral for women to be aware and in control of our own bodies.”

Go here to purchase a copy from the Shodhini Institute (bonus: supporting another activist/small business operation).

3. A New View of a Woman’s Body: A Fully Illustrated Guide by the Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers ($30)

Cover of A New View of a Woman's BodyAnother book that I learned about because of Pati, it covers a incredible amount of medical knowledge, centered around feminist practices of self-exam and self-help. This book gives you the tools you need to take control of your own health care, and provides many illustrations and photos of real women’s bodies. A great resource for your own health needs, as well as when working with doula clients. You can also purchase a copy of this book from the Shodhini Institute.

While you are at it, check out all the other items for sale at the Shodhini Institute online store.

4. Donation to The Doula Project

Screen shot 2012-12-06 at 4.44.53 PM

If you’d prefer a less consumer-based gift, then may I suggest a donation to the Doula Project? There are of course many fabulous non-profit organizations you could donate to in someone’s honor (including many other full-spectrum doula groups!) but let me provide one reason why supporting the Doula Project could make an impact.

In addition to serving thousands of people in NYC over the last few years, providing free doula support during abortions, miscarriages, birth and adoptions, the Doula Project also supports new full spectrum doula programs that are cropping up around the country. They share their curriculum, travel to facilitate trainings and give lots of advice and support. So by donating to The Doula Project, you not only support their vital NYC-based work, but you help ensure that this movement grows nationally. So consider a donation in someone’s name.

5. Doula Sterling Silver Necklace ($52)

And because I could not resist going to Etsy and searching for “doula,” here is a beautiful necklace for the jewelry loving doula in your life. If you are interested in stones & crystal healing, here is what the artist says about the stones included on the necklace: “Turquoise: Spiritual attunement, cleansing, healing, protection, valor, soothing, peace of mind, guidance through the unknown. Amethyst: Contentment, spirituality, dreams, healing, peace, happiness, love, intuition. Amber: Soothing, calming, cleansing.”

Radical Doula Profiles: Kate Palmer

This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Email me at radicaldoulaATgmailDOTcom.

Kate Palmer in yellow sweaterKate Palmer is a queer, working-class feminist activist and full-spectrum doula living in Chicago. She has spent almost ten years working in abortion care and is currently working with the Chicago Doula Circle, an abortion doula group she co-founded. In addition to that, she works as a private birth and postpartum doula with Kaleidoscope Doula Care. She also co-founded 45 Million Voices, which is organization dedicated to reducing stigma around abortion and serves on the boards of the Chicago Abortion Fund and the Chicago Women’s Health Center.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?

I see being a doula as a political act and I believe that abortion, pregnancy, and childbirth can be a radical act of love and resistance. I’ve held the hands of thousands of people during their abortions and the compassion and love that I’ve witnessed while supporting someone during their abortion has shaped the kind of birth doula that I am today. Being queer and actively choosing to work with queer and trans folks makes me a little different than the traditional doula (and I love that!).

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?

My doula philosophy is one of meeting people where they are at and recognizing that everyone views pregnancy and birth very differently. My role as a doula is to empower and educate pregnant people and as long as my clients are aware of their options, I support whatever options they may choose.

As a working class queer feminist activist, I am also working as a doula to help expand doula love to people that don’t traditionally have access to pregnancy support. I also see the work that I’m doing as part of a larger political context. One of my roles as a radical doula to help bridge the “traditional birth doula” world with the reproductive justice movement. There shouldn’t be such a disconnect between the two worlds. For example, we all should be fighting for greater access for Certified Professional Midwives as well fighting the increasing amount of abortion restrictions. When we only focus our energy on only one side of these issues, instead of seeing it as part of a broader issue of the government and corporations trying to control our bodies and our choices that we make in our lives, it only compromises the end goal and does a disservice to those that we are working and advocating on behalf of.

Continue reading

Radical Doula Profiles: Marea Goodman

Marea Goodman smilingThis is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Email me at radicaldoulaATgmailDOTcom.

Marea Goodman is a Bay Area radical doula who is consistently awed and inspired by the power of birth. She speaks Spanish and Portuguese, and is committed to working with diverse communities where her services are needed, often on a volunteer basis. As a queer womyn, she relishes each opportunity to work with the LGBTQ community, and feels passionately about reconfiguring the notion of what a “family” can be.



What inspired you to become a doula?

I became inspired to become a doula when a good friend of mine found out she was pregnant and asked me to be at her birth as her acupressure therapist. I decided to go through the DONA birth doula training, and completed the course in time to attend the beautiful home birth she was privileged enough to have in the East Bay. After experiencing the power of the birth room, I felt forever changed. Since then, I have dedicated much of my time and energy to providing my doula services to women and families in need.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?

For me, the term “radical”connotes a commitment to breaking the mold of normative society and the oppression so many of us face because of it. A radical doula is someone who does this in the realm of birth and families. I speak Spanish and Portuguese, and am so grateful for every opportunity to support those members of society who are unfairly oppressed. As a queer womyn, I relish each opportunity to work with members of the LGBTQ community. I am sensitive to the preferred gender pronouns of each of my clients and to the role that their partner(s) play during labor and birth. I also have a personal commitment to reconfiguring the normative idea of what a “family” can be.

Continue reading

Radical Doula Profiles: Casey Wait

This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Email me at radicaldoulaATgmailDOTcom.

Casey WaitCasey Wait is currently a student at Bennington College in Vermont where she studies Human Ecology. She hails from the Chicagoland area and began her doula career working with the Chicago Doula Circle as an abortion doula (which was probably the most wonderful experience of her 20-year life). Casey is passionate about radical feminism, queer issues, ecology, herbalism, social activism, and skill-sharing! Though she has yet to see a baby be born, she aspires to become a full-spectrum doula in the near future. At the present, she offers abortion doula support and would love to gain more experience in the birth world.  She is very proud to be a part of the radical doula community. She has a lot to learn, but also a lot to contribute!

What inspired you to become a doula?

I have always been passionate about reproductive health and justice. I am a natural caretaker–since I was little I have always loved providing emotional and physical support to my friends and family. It wasn’t until my second year of college, when talking to my adviser about these interests, that I considered becoming a doula–in fact, I didn’t even know what a doula was until she explained to me why she believed it would be such a good fit for me.

I go to Bennington College, and here we have something called Field Work Term, which is a seven-week term between the fall and spring semesters where every student is required to do an internship in their area of study. For my first Field Work Term I worked as an abortion doula with the Chicago Doula Cirlce, a group of fantastic volunteer abortion doulas. It was during this time that I realized that doula work truly was my calling.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?

I consider myself a radical doula because I am dedicated to offering my services to any person going through any reproductive experience–be they female, male, trans, gender-non-conforming; whether they are carrying the pregnancy to term, choosing abortion, adoption, experiencing miscarriage or fetal loss. I also hope to work with those in lower income communities, to help improve the quality of care offered to these communities. I believe that at the heart of what doula work is about is compassion, and there is not a single person in this world who doesn’t deserve some compassion. I strive to normalize and validate all reproductive experiences.

Continue reading

Radical Doula Profiles: Rivka Cymbalist

Rivka Cymbalist wearing colorful scarfThis is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Email me at radicaldoulaATgmailDOTcom.

Rivka Cymbalist CD(DONA) has been working as a doula since 1997, and has witnessed hundreds of babies coming into the world. Of these, fewer than twenty have been c-sections, several have been twin births, and 95% of them have taken place in the hospital. She is director of Montreal Birth Companions, which is a volunteer organization that provides free doula services to refugee and immigrant women. She has been training doulas since 2004, and regularly accepts apprentices in her practice. Her book, The Birth Conspiracy, Natural Birth, Hospitals, and Doulas: A Guide was released by Curioso Books in November, 2011.

What inspired you to become a doula?

I have always been involved in women’s health, and when I started having my own children I became more passionate about the injustices inherent in our modern obstetrical practice. I wanted to attend women in childbirth and attempted to provide a gentler, more respectful space for them.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?

A radical doula understands what is at the root of the issues surrounding birth. All the prejudices and failures in a society can be magnified during an important life event. This is nowhere more clear than during pregnancy and birth. I try to break down barriers, dispel prejudices and misconceptions, and respect where respect is due.

Continue reading