Miriam Zoila Pérez’s The Radical Doula Guide: A Political Primer just came out a few months ago, back in August. I hesitate to call it a book: at 52 pages long, and stapled rather than bound, it’s really closer to a pamphlet. But … a really good pamphlet, you know?
Although its length prevents it from achieving much depth in any particular topic, that’s not its aim: as Pérez establishes clearly and frankly, idea is to raise questions and encourage further exploration. That purpose is served well. This is a worthwhile supplement to doula trainings, which typically overlook the ‘political’ issues Pérez addresses. The reality is that no births happen outside a politicized institutional framework and a politicized set of intertwined identity categories.
The Radical Doula Guide covers a few main areas:
- It discusses access to doula services, framing ‘radical’ doula work in terms of reaching out to those who might not otherwise be able to have this kind of support.
- It 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 as a doula would do well to think compassionately about the full range of pregnancy outcomes. After all, not every client’s pregnancy ends in birth.
- It suggests that doulas should be aware of and educated about the inequalities and histories that affect pregnant/birthing individuals (as well as doulas themselves): race, nationality and citizenship, dis/ability, sexuality, gender, and so forth. And it gestures toward some of the major issues and experiences at play.
This guide is a very quick read, not only because of its brevity but also because of its accessible, friendly, thoughtful tone. It’s well-written and engaging. It never talks down to its readers. In sum: an interesting and thought-provoking read for anyone doing or thinking about birthwork.
It’s self-published and therefore, sadly, unlikely to appear at your local library. You can buy a copy online for $12 (or be like me and have a generous friend lend you a copy).