The act of being a doula is radical. Our very presence within the hospital system disrupts the ways in which the assembly-line like medical system works - especially for something like birth, which is not a disease. Despite certification efforts, doulas really are just a rogue group of people bringing awareness and support to the missing pieces of maternity care. There is no standard for our training and anyone can call themselves, and act as, a doula without any formal training at all. It is truly an odd space to inhabit.
It is for this reason - the subversive existence of birth doulas - that I wanted to interview Miriam Zoila Perez of Radical Doula.
I know that so many of my clients hired me not only because they felt we were a right fit, but they picked up on my passion for birth justice (I was given this feedback many times, which made me feel so wonderful!). Explaining in detail how I would help advocate for my clients, how our maternity care system is broken and why I was so passionate about doing this work won prospective clients over time and again. I also incorporated a donation option for higher income clients. At our postpartum visit I mentioned that they were welcome to donate into a fund that allowed me to provide services to low income, marginalized families - the people most at risk for poor outcomes. My clients were always delighted to give and I found a sustainable way to provide doula services to people who couldn't afford it and pay my bills at the same time.
In our conversation, we talk about how to bring social justice and inequality awareness into doula practice. We also talk about why women of color are more at risk for poor outcomes and how we can shift this reality through doula and midwifery care.
Miriam is a queer Cuban-American writer and activist focused on race, health and gender. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Colorlines, Splinter (formerly Fusion), The Nation, The American Prospect, MORE Magazine, Rewire (formerly RH Reality Check) and Talking Points Memo. Her Ted Talk - How Racism Harms Pregnant Women and What Can Help has been viewed nearly 900K times. The Radical Doula Guide, a 52 page political primer that addresses the political context of supporting people during pregnancy and childbirth is available for purchase here.