The Super-Secret Outlaw Doula in Backwoods California
When the contractions come and you’ve got a two-hour mountain drive to the hospital, who are you going to call?
“There are renegades delivering babies in the woods,” Aria says, in a tone both ironic and mischievous. She is a doula living in Hayfork, California, a community of about 2,500 located in the rugged mountains of Trinity County. Towns here often don’t consist of much more than a gas station, general store, post office, and a requisite bar, and are linked by narrow, windy roads. Drives through the dense wilderness between them can take up to a few hours. In these remote outposts there exists an underground current of women who have their babies at home, hours from the nearest hospital.
Some of these expectant mothers employ a midwife or doula if they can, and some deliver their children without any assistance at all. But others use uncertified midwives, a practice that is illegal for mothers in some states (though not California), and always illegal for the uncertified midwife.
“I’ve caught a few babies illegally,” Aria says. Doulas are licensed to provide emotiona…