Radical Doula Profiles: Alex Barr

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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 Alex: I’m a doula and childbirth educator located in Phoenix, AZ. I was trained in March 2020 and certified in March 2021 through a local birth center. I’m passionate about providing inclusive and safe spaces for pregnant people in my community.

You can find more about me at alexbarrdoula.com or on Instagram.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I became a doula because there is a persistent lack of support for people in general, but specifically in the birth experience. The transition to pregnant person and the transition to parenthood is not treated with any of the care, love, or support needed to sustain us. I felt that becoming a doula and childbirth educator was a way to provide that community support that is so desperately needed.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
As I’ve dived into the birth work community there aren’t very many people providing inclusive practices and support.I’ve made it my goal to make my practices trauma informed, inclusive in language, and focused on people that don’t ‘fit’ in the typical idea of birthing person.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
My doula philosophy is all about community support. I provide the support, I connect pregnant people together, I provide resources so my clients feel supported even after they’re no longer working with me. This fits into my belief about helping the people who need it the most helps everyone around us, we all rise together.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I love seeing people come into themselves in pregnancy and birth, whether that’s standing up for themselves, getting the birth they desired, or simply asking for the help they need.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I would change the community around it. So many people walk into pregnancy, birth, and parenthood alone and unsupported in their choices.

Radical Doula Profiles: Summer Diegel

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!
Summer

About Summer: Summer Gail Diegel is a children’s minister and full spectrum doula in Duwamish Tribal lands that have come to be known as Seattle, WA. ​Summer has prioritized continued education to develop their artistry in communication, body care, spiritual guidance, and all-ages wellness education. Summer develops curriculum, facilitates workshops, courses, and offers doula care services– but is most at home cozied up with a sci-fi or fantasy novel. They use their love of story to create imaginative methods of facilitating connection through skilled planning, soothing techniques, on-call care, and education for children and adults. Check out their website.

What inspired you to become a doula?
Even as a child I was drawn to people who were skilled in de-escalation, who were kind hearted, who were artists, and often people that were spiritual. I had really authentic relationships with the people in my community who cared for me, a lot of them have been teachers, ministry, and community cooks at churches I grew up attending. So I knew that I wanted to care for people the way that I saw those people caring for people. The first doulas I knew were and are in queer communities, in churches, feeding their neighbors, supporting overdose prevention programs, organizing healing & first aid support on the streets, and making poetry, jewelry, art.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I am drawn to full spectrum support because it centers the values of clients’ choice. The idea of full spectrum care is to provide non judgemental support regardless of a person’s outcome. In pregnancy that includes birth, miscarriage, abortion, or adoption. In WA state we have a lot of legal choices in death too, including various disposition methods, and end-of-life supports like Medical Aid in Dying, and Voluntary Stopping of Eating and Drinking.

I’ve worked in death care for several years. But I only began learning the doula model of care three years ago. I think I may have said this earlier, but it’s most important to me to learn doula care and grow my personal toolbox so that I can be prepared for my elders, my friends, and my family. And I really enjoy this work, so if really anyone chooses me as their doula, I would like to make my services accessible to them. Sometimes my doula work is relational, other times it is volunteer, barter based, or sliding scale. That’s what intertwines my doula work with my activism. It’s up to each person how they make it fit their needs.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I really believe that a lot of doula work happens all the time, in small moments and transitions. So I think to offer doula care it’s important that I slow down and find what is authentic to me, to recognize this work as community-centered, and to honor it as such without creating gates or replicating patterns that keep others from care. And I encourage people to learn with others and seek long-term mentorship rather than try to practice alone, because accountability in care work is really important to keeping our clients and community members safe.

My Irish and Polish ancestors shared traditions and cultural stories of life transitions such as pregnancy and end-of-life– they had community roles, wisdom, and sacred medicines for that to teach one another and share in accountable care work. But because of a number of things, including several hundred years of European colonization and American imperialism, that knowledge has shifted out of my family, this is one way of re-learning those skills. That’s what I consider the doula model of care to be– a re-introduction to knowledge that is my right as a human in a body.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
I love that I can become more prepared with skills for my disabled community members, my elders, my friends, and my family. So I love that it can prepare me to love people more. I am growing my skills for doula care in so many different ways currently. My favorite thing is being young and in a position of learning with my teachers– which is a privilege. It feels sacred to me to be a young person who feels pulled to work at the threshold, where I have been invited to witness experts at work and practice among them.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
If I could change one experience of pregnancy and birth then every person would be receiving long-term postpartum support in their tradition or preferences; regardless of their pregnancy outcome.

Radical Doula Profiles: Karma

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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 Karma: Karma is a Traditional Birth Attendant and a Guide for women to reclaim and cultivate their personal power. Her work is to be with women and mothers that are navigating their life by offering support, care, nourishment, love and healing through: herbal medicine; prenatal, birth, spontaneous or intentional pregnancy release and postpartum support; bodywork; coaching; pelvic health education; sister circles, online courses and more.

She’s continuing to grow her community of like-minded women all over Vancouver Island, Canada and you can contact her through instagram, through her website: SacredBEarthkeeping.com or through email: SacredBEarthkeeping@hotmail.com

What inspired you to become a doula?

This is my life’s work as I’m passionate about women reclaiming and cultivating the power that has been taken from them and the best place to start is with mothers birthing our new generations.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?

I identify with this term, but more so Traditional Birth attendant or Traditional Midwife because I do my work completely outside of patriarchal influence. I guide women to live their life in that way and to recognize the benefit of self responsibility. There is no one on earth that knows more about a woman’s body or what is needed for her birth process than that woman herself. I’m educating women to know that their body isn’t broken and that they can absolutely birth their baby on their own terms.

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

MY philosophy is that the female body isn’t inherently broken and birth isn’t inherently a medical event. Every woman had within her the power to safely birth her baby where and whenever she wants to with whomever she wants present.

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?

I love seeing women connect to and fully understand the power within themselves and when its not suppressed they literally can do anything.

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?

I would change the fact that women are so reliant on the industrialized medical system to “save” them, which only leaves them with the trauma of birth violence and OB or medical Midwife betrayal.

Radical Doula Profiles: Harley Banfield

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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 Harley: I was awakened to my passion towards birth and the finding out of my 2nd pregnancy and have been educating myself on all things birth ever since. 6+ years. I reside in Central/southern Indiana. You can reach me anytime by email Harleybanfield@mtdiyonbirthkeeping.com
864 407 8909
Mt Diyon Birthkeeping

What inspired you to become a doula?
My life changed when I discovered a whole new world about health and wellness which led me down the rabbit hole to birth and all the options there were that I didn’t know about and as soon as I became educated about them I wanted to share them with other mommas as well! I’ve now been a *Formal* birth doula for 4yrs.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
Skip the ordinary doula! Invest in someone truly worth it is my motto, I myself have had 2 free births. I’m the Holistic/unorthodox/natural alternative type. Prenatal education and birth support to the fullest ability of truth, love and evidenced based care.

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
Prenatal education and birth support to the fullest ability of truth, love and evidenced based care. Skip the ordinary doula! Invest in someone truly worth it. I’m the Holistic/unorthodox/natural alternative type.
Mothers should be supported no matter what they choose! Non judgmental birth support to the fullest ability of truth, love and evidenced based care. & p.s YES, Advocacy IS a small but highly integrative accessory to birth support, should that be your desire! Bring faith-based Professional maternal support to you birth team!

What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Experiencing the empowerment of free births!

If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
It would be to change natural primal feelings or assumptions relating to the physical feelings or pain of giving birth.

Radical Doula Profiles: Maggie Weber-Striplin

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!

Maggie Weber-StriplinAbout Maggie Weber-Striplin: I serve as a volunteer doula at San Francisco General Hospital serving a dozen births as well as a few private births. I have been a post-partum doula, sibling doula, and nanny in the Bay Area for 8 years for families with singles and twins.

What inspired you to become a doula?
The first few moments of life are so precious and so important to to our beliefs that we are loved, worthy, safe, and whole in the world. In the first five years of life is when 90% of our brain development happens and beliefs about the world are formed. Parents need the most support at this time in adjusting to their new family member so that the whole family can thrive as they grow together.

Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
Radical is a term I apply to most areas of my life. I went to a radical college and a radical cooking school. I regularly attend protests and sign petitions. I believe everyone should have access to support. If radical is bringing birth back to its origins of community,support, love, trust and celebration, I’m radical!

What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
Everyone should have access to a doula or birth support. This ties into my larger beliefs of believing in coming back to a community approach to living, where we can find an abundance of support in our communities.

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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: 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.