Tag Archives: doula


Which placenta cake takes the cake?

This gallery contains 6 photos.

My doula & placenta encapsulation business is growing, and my first trainee has just finished her certification process to become a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist.  We need to celebrate – with a cake!  A placenta cake, to be exact. No, I … Continue reading

We Are Not All Women: Midwives, Doulas & the Gender of Birth Work

Tucked inside the new issue of SQUAT Birth Journal #5 is my latest article “We Are Not All Women:  Midwives, Doulas & the Gender of Birth Work.”  The article shares the experiences of a transgender midwifery student, and a male midwife who’s been practicing for 30+ years.

The article attempts to challenge our assumptions about the gender identities of birth workers, and to explore the estrogen-rich environment that is the birth world.

Here’s an excerpt from my interview with Kennedy Rollins,* a transgender midwifery student:

“Considering his experience of feeling alienated in the birth community, Kennedy wonders what effect his gender identity will have on his ability to serve birthing families.  “As someone who really wants to prioritize being accessible to people, and being able to be a competent care provider, how am I potentially restricting myself by transitioning?”

There will undoubtedly be families who are not interested in having a transgendered midwife as their care provider.  “I know that I would reach more people if I appeared to be female,” Kennedy admits.  But at the same time, there are also birthing families who embrace gender diversity as an element of the vibrant world around us, or who are themselves gender-non-conforming.  For these families, Kennedy and the handful of other publicly transgender doulas, midwives, and student midwives may be the ideal care providers.”

* A pseudonym has been used in this article to protect the privacy of the person being interviewed.

Gendered Language in this Safe Space

This post originally appeared today at the Full Spectrum Doula Network, so the language is directed toward that particular community.  But the message applies to the larger reproductive health community as well–and is a key element to the work we have to do to create an inclusive movement that fully represents the vibrance and diversity of this world.

One of the core goals of this community is to create a safe space for the full spectrum of doulas and other reproductive health workers.  For transgender or genderqueer folks working in the reproductive health world, part of feeling safe is not being asked to constantly, on a minute-to-minute basis, identify within the conventional gender binary of male and female–and not constantly, on a minute-to-minute basis, having your gender assumed as female because of your work as a doula or midwife.

This post is just a gentle nudge to remind folks here that your language matters.  To remind folks that part of creating a safe space lies in challenging ourselves to change our behaviors that might be alienating or denigrating to folks we really don’t mean to oppress.

Here, in this safe space, you don’t have to be a ‘lady’ or a ‘she’ or a ‘woman’ (or even a ‘womyn’ for that matter) to be a doula or a midwife or an advocate.

Many of us have talked about how Continue reading

Supporting Trans Folks in the Childbearing Year

One of the growing areas of interest (and need) for doula support is the birthing population of trans folks.  This great post from RHRealityCheck.org discusses the specific needs of transmen during conception, pregnancy and birth, but there’s a serious lack of resources for both the transfolk experiencing the childbearing year, AND the care prodivers (doulas, in this case) looking to support them.

The list below is from the new Resources page at the Full Spectrum Doula Network.  The page is private and only openable by FSDN members, so I wanted to go ahead and make the list of resources available to you, too.  The info below provides a wealth of information for and about the birthing trans community:

Many, many thanks to Abigail, Danny, and everyone else who contributed to compiling this list!  And it’s only a beginning…

The Sister Who Cuts the Thread

At a birth I attended as a doula in August, the mama offered me the honor of cutting their umbilical cord.  I did, and ever since, I’ve been haunted by thoughts of how my hands severed that very visceral tie between mother and baby.

Atropos, Greek goddess of fate, is the sister who cuts the thread of life.

 After an hour of spontaneous, non-directed pushing, a baby boy was born into a quiet room and his mama’s arms.  His papa had made it clear from mid-pregnancy that he wouldn’t be cutting the umbilical cord, so when the on-call midwife handed him the scissors, he recoiled.  

 The midwife turned to me, offered the scissors and asked if I wanted to cut it.  The question seemed inappropriate, since it wasn’t really her gesture to make.  I felt like she should’ve turned to the mama for direction instead of me.  It was already an awkward moment, in place of what should have been a rush of joy and accomplishment for the mama, and I was trying in my mind to balance making it more awkward or with going with the flow of things and cutting the cord. 

I looked to the mama, who smiled and suggested I go for it, and I did.  This all occurred within a matter of seconds, but to me there were huge implications. 

Was it really my place to step into this intimate moment of ritual for this new family?  As a doula, I’m already enmeshed in my clients’ lives in extremely intimate ways–physical contact, nudity, an understanding of the social & emotional culture of their family, and a sharing of some of the most intense moments of their lives.

But it still felt iffy.  In a cultural era of delayed cord clamping as a way to prolong the deep umbilical connection between mother and baby, I felt uncomfortable being the one to cause the separation. 

It’s difficult to juxtapose the simultaneous emotions of discomfort and feeling honored by the experience.  Cutting this baby’s cord was a privilege, an honor, and a first for me.  A very thought-provoking honor.