Supporting Parents with a Queer Lens

I often say that my hope is for a world where my job as a postpartum doula is no longer needed. Where we live in community, with elders and resources, held and supported as we welcome a new life into the world. 

I take great pride in the fact that I support all new parents with a queer lens. What does this mean, you might ask? It means I am honest about the ways in which America sets us up to fail and how capitalism requires us to detach from our babies and families and communities of support. It means I help everyone navigate the often unbalanced division of labor in the home and in their lives. It is having conversations with new parents about sex, pleasure, and consent as they hit the 6 weeks postpartum mark. One of the ways in which oppression and patriarchy work so effectively and so consistently is that we are taught to believe many of the messages ourselves. 

Queerness is often understood as a sexual and gender identity. While it is both of those things for me it is also a political identity. I often think about how the beginnings of queer political organizing, led by transgender women of color, was about sexual liberation for everyone, not just queer people. It was about being free from racism and police harassment. It was about everyone’s ability to live and love and have shelter and be supported in a way that felt authentic and real and free from violence and oppression. 

Identity and structural oppression inform everything about how we live our lives, birth our babies, and learn how to parent. I help my clients see and navigate those realities. Let’s talk about how our institutions, from marriage, to leave policies, to systems of childcare, to the medical system, are not set up to support us or help us build authentic connections with each other or our families and instead are set up to make money and perpetuate systems of oppression. 

That’s nice, Rachel, but what does that mean in practice? It means when clients arrive home from the hospital after the birth of their baby, I help them make sense of it, validate their frustration around having a million different people telling them a million different things, and remind them that none of it is their fault. When they talk about feeling nervous or guilty about returning to work at 12 weeks, I remind them that most countries have 6-18 months of paid leave, that there isn’t actually enough time in every day to do all the things we’ve been told we need to do in order to be good parents, spouses, workers, and human beings. But don’t worry, it’s not all gloom and doom. I help new parents tap into their intuition, find who they are and who they want to be as new parents, in relationship to their families and friends. I encourage deep, meaningful, and vulnerable relationships with partners and other new parents. I encourage empowered choices and body autonomy. Major life changes, such as having a new baby, are an opportunity. To grow, to be seen in a new light, to see yourself and the world in a new light. The light I shine is a rainbow one, working towards a fully liberated and connected world. You and your new baby are an integral part of that. 

Also, babies are so cute. Photo by Michelle Schapiro