What is a doula? The term on its own sounds magical and full of power.
After further reading, I found out that a full spectrum doula is a trained non-medical professional that provides physical, emotional, and informational support to women experiencing anything from abortion to child birth. An unbiased, almost sister or mother-figure for hire comes to mind; reminiscent of times when matriarchal passing of reproductive knowledge was common.
I could tell that even though I personally don’t plan on procreating, that this would be a fascinating and relevant conversation for me as a woman. It is well known that as an American society, we don’t talk enough about sex or grant women the bodily autonomy which we deserve. As a result, the female form is treated as a mysterious new frontier full of unanswered questions. This simply is not true; there are networks of women with generations of knowledge ready to be tapped. Women do not have to solely rely on doctors for answers and recommendations, especially in an era when hospitals can feel more like corporations, business as usual.
The current residents of our ¼ program, Chelsea Dunn and Megan Leach, curated the event and invited Ceylan Odunkesenler to share her expertise with the public. Keep reading to hear her experience at Murmur.
“I felt really positive after the talk I gave at Murmur. When Megan and Chelsea first approached me with the idea I was a little worried that no one would come and that no one would care because doulas are not really heard of in the mainstream and when we do hear the word “doula” we tend to associate doulas strictly with labor and childbirth. The thing about childbirth is that every one of us has to get born some way or another and it is so interesting that this phenomena is only explored when individuals and partners become pregnant, otherwise I think people think “Oh that doesn’t apply to me” but really, it should because the ways in which we birth totally matters as a feminist issue, a reproductive health/justice issue, and as an issue of civil and human rights. That anxiety arose specifically when they asked me “Who do you want your target audience to be?” because my immediate thought was EVERYONE. I did not want to alienate anyone with a focus on labor/childbirth and I also wanted to include as many experiences as possible to give everyone a clear understanding of what full spectrum work entails and how experiences like abortion and birth are not mutually exclusive. Although the group of attendees at Murmur was small, I was elated because everyone who came seemed to be genuinely interested and the discussion was never dull or stagnant as we moved through why doula work is important to the mainstream but even more imperative to the most marginalized individuals such as incarcerated birthing women.”