Hannah Brauer Fall 2020 Intersectional or Bust Award Runner Up


Hi! I’m Hannah Brauer (she/her), and I just graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Communication & Media and Creative Writing & Literature. I am honored to be the runner-up for the bebo mia Intersectional or Bust Award and am so excited for a chance to become a doula through a social justice lens!


I first found bebo mia while on one of my late-night “doula sprees” during quarantine, which is when I would accidentally stay up all night learning about this work. Through all of the testimonials about other doula certifications, the YouTube videos, the podcasts, and the blog posts, I was impressed with how dedicated bebo mia is to serving marginalized communities and using inclusive language. I never saw their kind of approach in the other programs I was looking at, and I most resonated with their mission that we need to include all identities — not just cis straight women — in the conversation of childbirth.


During college, I spent most of my time focused on social justice, public health, and communications. I’ve worked in health insurance, where I saw from a bird’s eye view how capitalism gets in the way of education if certain information might alienate potential customers. During this time, I also came out as bisexual and became part of a community where I knew people who were facing important family planning challenges based on their gender/sexuality, including whether they would be able to start taking hormones if they want to get pregnant, or what will happen to their child if their family does not support how they will be raised. The U.S. fails members of all marginalized communities on every front, from prevention to discrimination to education, and the health outcomes are staggering. Though we have a broken system, I believe doulas are part of creating positive systems in communities that can make lasting change through individual relationships.


My approach to this work is largely influenced by Adrienne Marie Brown’s “emergent strategy,” in that smaller, meaningful relationships will create a network that will expand to create systemic change. As a storyteller looking to eventually make a long-term impact in the health system, I want to form deep relationships now and spread education as a support for mothers who are frequently put at a disadvantage in the U.S. health system. I know that giving education to one mother can help spread it to her entire network, which can inform an entire community and even pass down knowledge to future generations.


In terms of my own experience, I’ve never given birth or even witnessed a birth. It’s been a taboo topic for me growing up, with the looming fear of becoming pregnant shadowing my young adult years with very little knowledge of what that actually looks like. Throughout my teen years, I would declare that I didn’t want to have children just because I didn’t want to give birth. Now, as I’m entering the years of my life in which I will likely decide to have children, I want to have a critical lens of it not just for my community, but also for my own experience. Whenever I have this experience for myself, I want to know how to advocate for myself and confidently navigate through the system that often puts mothers at a disadvantage. I hope that having a clean slate will put me in a unique position to learn without judgment and hopefully provide unbiased support to my future clients.


Once I am certified as a doula, I plan to add my doula services to my existing photography business that I have grown in Michigan. I started doing photography while I was a freshman in college and have served over 250 clients over the years, focusing on portrait and wedding photography. Creating relationships through photography feels right to me, as it gives me a peek into someone’s life in a vulnerable way to create something beautiful at the end. I would love to run my doula business similarly and amplify my client relationships through radical empathy and education. My business model will likely surround packages that include doula services along with maternity and/or newborn photos with an emphasis on long-lasting relationships. I hope that, much like photography services, I can keep in touch with my clients and document important moments in their lives at every step of the way, through the growth of their family or major life transitions.


While working as a doula, I also plan to apply to Master’s of Public Health (MPH) programs and pursue my dream of becoming a health journalist. In this master’s program, I would specialize in women’s health (particularly reproductive health focusing on BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities) and write about pressing systemic issues for wider audiences. Ultimately, being a doula would help to inform this future career in public health, especially because the best way to educate a large audience is to know what it’s like to educate someone one-on-one.


As a writer, advocate, and future public health professional, bebo mia’s Maternal Support Practitioner program feels like the perfect next step in my goal of spreading awareness and resources for women’s health. I am so excited to get started with this work and am ready to dedicate myself to systemic change!




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