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 Sierra Holland: I am a queer femme-identified doula serving pregnant and birthing people and new families in the greater Boston area. My passion lies in providing affirming and inclusive support to people from marginalized groups as they navigate their reproductive pathways. I am certified by BEST Doula Training and hold a PhD in Sociology (with a Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies) from the University of Florida, where I completed a dissertation on the transition to first-time parenthood for women partnered with women. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through allbodiesbirth.com, facebook, or instagram. (She/her)
What inspired you to become a doula?
I spent years doing research at the intersection of gender/sexuality, families, and medicine, but I found the knowledge I was building and my capacity for supporting pregnant people was constrained by the demands of academic life and politics. I began seeking opportunities to connect directly with pregnant people and to make real, immediate, and tangible improvements to their birth experiences, which led me to birth work. My practice is focused on two main goals: to provide support to people who are marginalized along their reproductive pathways, and to impact the culture of birth and birth work towards a more affirming, radical direction.
Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
My work is grounded in an understanding of how power impacts every single area of our lives and, specifically, shapes our reproductive choices, experiences, and pathways. To question systems of marginalization like our current healthcare system, the medicalization of birth, and white heteropatriarchal control of birthing bodies is, to me, a radical act that deeply informs my birth work. I seek to honor and value how differences among people – especially those that create oppression – inform experiences of the body and reproduction in ways that are deeply impactful to the mind, body, and spirit.
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
I believe that all pregnant people should have access to knowledge about their bodies and available choices, as well as the resources and support to act on that knowledge with confidence and autonomy. I believe that systems of oppression are fundamentally intertwined, and so my birth work emerges from a position of reproductive justice that values and affirms the locations and identities of all birthing people and their right to birth and parent with dignity. For me, this radiates out from individual birth experiences to the health and wellness of our communities and our connections with one another.
What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Besides providing empowering and affirming support during a person’s reproductive experience, I am deeply invested in creating conversation around the wellbeing of pregnant people and normalizing healthy, empowered birth experiences. Seeing a fellow birth worker move towards gender-neutral terms around birth, watching an uncensored birth video or unscripted view of postpartum life, hearing open and honest dialogue about breastfeeding, etc. are all things that replenish me to keep doing this work!