"In August 2012 I published The Radical Doula Guide, a 52 page political primer that addresses the political context of supporting people during pregnancy and childbirth.
The guide provides an introduction to full spectrum doula work—supporting people during all phases of pregnancy, including abortion, miscarriage, birth and adoption—as well as a discussion of how issues like race, class, immigration, gender and more affect our work as doulas."
Purchase a copy here: http://radicaldoula.bigcartel.com/
Miriam Zoila Pérez is an award-winning queer Cuban-American writer and activist.
Pérez is a freelance writer, and is the founder of Radical Doula, a blog that covers the intersections of birth activism and social justice from a doula’s perspective. Pérez’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, Colorlines, Splinter, The Nation, The American Prospect, MORE Magazine, Rewire.News and Talking Points Memo. Their TED talk: How Racism is Harming Pregnant Women–and What Can Help, has been viewed close to one million times. Pérez’s work has appeared in a number of anthologies, including Click, Yes Means Yes and Persistence and Not That Bad, a New York Times bestselling anthology edited by Roxane Gay. They were a 2010 Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging LGBT Voice in Non-Fiction. Pérez is the author of the self-published Radical Doula Guide: A Political Primer for Full-Spectrum Pregnancy and Childbirth Support, which is in its third printing. You might also know them from their work at Feministing.com, where they were an Editor for four years, during which the site was awarded the Sidney J Hillman Prize for Blog Journalism.
Pérez has received various awards and recognitions for their work, including being named as one of 200 people who embody the values of Frederick Douglass in 2018, a 2009 Young Woman of Achievement Award from the Women’s Information Network and a 2010 Barbara Seaman Award for Activism in Women’s Health from the National Women’s Health Network. They were included in a MORE Magazine feature about new feminists to pay attention to, Curve Magazine named them Best Activist/Newcomer in 2010 and Latina Magazine profiled them as part of their 15th anniversary “Future 15.”
Pérez lives in Washington, DC and is cultivating a new obsession with houseplants.
After years of hearing about this and hearing people rave about it, i finally got my hands on a copy at Fed Up Fest. This crash course in radical doula activism/birthwork really gives people from all walks of life a lot of things to consider in terms of how to radicalize their birthwork practice. Not only does it cover several axises of oppression, it utilizes the personal narratives of self-identified radical birthworkers to discuss why they became doulas, what disparities they're hoping to address in their work, and how they envision themselves radicalizing birthwork. I would love to see a follow up anthology with tips & techniques crowdsourced from the front lines of radical birthwork. Either way, it gave me a lot to think about as someone who wants to go through doula training before having a baby just to know what to expect from the natural birth process.
This lil primer covers BIG issues that all my other doula training books seemed to have missed. So glad to have found words for my misgivings with other hetero-normative, gender essentialist, "colorblind" readings. Highly recommend to doulas and future doulas.
A very quick read--both because it's quite brief and because of its accessible, friendly, but still thoughtful tone--The Radical Doula Guide would be an important supplement to any doula training. The length of this guide means it doesn't achieve much depth, but--as Perez establishes clearly--its aim is to raise questions and put a thought process into motion.
The takeaway is that doulas should be aware of and educated about the inequalities and histories that affect pregnant/birthing individuals: race, nationality and citizenship, dis/ability, sexuality, gender, and so forth. Perez also introduces the idea of "full-spectrum" doula work, which encompasses abortion and miscarriage support as well as birth support. Even a person who would not choose to attend an abortion procedure would do well to think compassionately about the full range of pregnancy outcomes and be prepared for the reality that not every client's pregnancy ends in birth.
A well-organized overview of political issues that are CRUCIAL to be aware of in doula work. It is relevant to those who are not considering this line of work as well as awareness of these issues is extremely important no matter who you are, especially if you live in the US. The list of resources (books) in the back of the Guide is invaluable. Thank you, Pérez!
An easy-to-understand, inclusive, and short introduction to diversity, privilege, and power issues relevant to providing full-spectrum pregnancy support. I bought a copy because it feels good to have this kind of book within easy reach on my shelf, even though I'm just now exploring an interest in birth activism. The sections on ability, size, and age gave me food for thought.
"Now I see a different group coming into this work. Young people without children but with a passion for health activism are finding doula work and see it as a new way to channel their desire to engage in direct service or direct action....The appeal of doula work is the hope that it can interrupt these statistics and politics. We can introduce a compassionate and understanding element and provide non-judgmental and unconditional support to pregnant and parenting people. This is by no means a replacement for political work that fights laws or changes policy. It's a companion to it, one that gives me hope and energy to keep fighting the bigger fights" (p. 5).
I really appreciate this guide because it brings together several things I am passionate about: full spectrum doula support, social justice, and the radical element of doula work, which the author defines as "making our doula services accessible to those who wouldn't otherwise be able to access them." It provides an overview of the various political and social justice issues that are inextricable from pregnancy/birth work and serves as an excellent discussion-starter about these issues. I'd love to get together with other radical doulas and share and compare criticisms and responses to the guide.
Quick read, decent overview of the politics and ethics behind birthing and doula work. It could stand for an update; there are newer resources on trans pregnancy and parenting. I also could use more info on birth work with incarcerated people.