BALTIMORE — This city has opened a new front in its effort to give black newborns the same chances of surviving infancy as white ones: training doulas to assist expectant mothers during pregnancy, delivery and afterward.
Other cities may follow, according to Dale Kaplan of the MaternityWise Institute, which conducts doula training in Baltimore. Other cities, including Denver, San Antonio and San Francisco, have contacted his organization to inquire about starting programs.
“Doula” comes from a Greek term meaning “a woman who helps.” Although doulas are trained to assist expectant mothers through labor, delivery and beyond, they are not medical providers, as midwives are. Dona International, which calls itself the largest doula-certifying organization in the world, said doulas help mothers achieve “the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.”
A 2013 study found that doula-assisted mothers were less likely to deliver babies with low birth weights or with birth complications than were mothers who opted not to receive such support, and they were more likely to breast-feed their infants. Another study found that mothers attended by female caregivers during labor were less likely than others to have Caesarean births, require painkillers or deliver babies in poor health.
“Continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor,” according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which cites other benefits, such as shortened labor, less need for pain medication and fewer operative deliveries.
African American women have a long history with doulas, particularly during the Jim Crow era when hospitals denied access to black women, forcing many to deliver their children at home, said Andrea Williams-Salaam, a doula trainer in the Baltimore program. But as race-based legal barriers vanished and the medical profession strongly promoted hospital deliveries as the safest option, fewer women practiced as doulas.
While a few continued to work in Baltimore, she said, the city decided to start training doulas, following the example of New York, which started its doula program in 2010. So far, New York has trained 68 doulas who have attended 580 births.
Gabriela Ammann, director of the By My Side Birth Support Doula Program, which seeks to reduce infant mortality in Brooklyn, helped start the New York program. She had been a part-time doula while teaching infant education classes in the Brooklyn Healthy Start Program.
“I noticed when we talked about labor and birth support, participants often said they weren’t sure they’d have someone with them,” she said. “Sometimes they didn’t have someone to support them, or that person had to stay home to take care of the other kids.”
Like New York, Baltimore wants its doulas to work as independent contractors rather than as city employees. In addition to advising women about their pregnancies and baby care, Baltimore’s doulas will be trained to connect needy women to housing, transportation, nutrition and employment services.
“The doulas are there to assist, support and empower a woman in whatever way she needs assistance,” Williams-Salaam said. “That could be accompanying the woman to medical visits to help with the terminology used by the caregiver or helping her obtain proper nutrition, housing or employment.”
Too often, poor African American women are treated disrespectfully by the institutions they interact with, she said. She wants not only to advocate for her clients but also to “teach them how to advocate for themselves.”
“Like me, a lot of these moms have been subjected to violence and trauma,” she said. “That’s why I want to help them understand what their rights are, so they can move through that system without being re-traumatized.”
The cost of hiring a doula varies widely, from as little as $100 to as much as $5,000, according to Ammann. There is generally no insurance reimbursement for doula services. Unlike New York, Baltimore will not pay the doulas for their work, so any money they make will come from clients.
Demetra Seriki is a NARM registered Midwife and owner of A Mother’s Choice – Birth Options and Beyond
She is also a Midwife who serves the community of Colorado Springs, Colorado and is currently seeking Student midwives of Color who are interested in training to complete their education as midwives. With so many hospitals closing in many states across the country, the necessity for properly trained Midwives are seemingly increasing.
She recently shared some disturbing but much needed statistics about birth:
It is with a very HEAVY heart that I will report the 2016 birth statistics in El Paso County (Colorado Springs) for families of color. They do not separate the stats by birth location so these numbers represent total births and all birth locations.
Total births (all races) 9,499
1. Hispanic – 1,517
2. Black – 814
3. Asian – 468
4. Native – 92
Low Birth Weight (<2,500):
1. Hispanic – 8.8
2. Black – 14.1
3. Asian – 9.0
4. Native – 13.0
Very Low Birth Weight (<1,500)
1. Hispanic – 1.5
2. Black – 2.5
3. Asian -0.9
4. Native – 6.5
1. Hispanic – 10.4
2. Black – 13.5
3. Asian – 9.8
4. Native – 19.6
52 infant deaths
34 neonatal deaths
Unfortunately the data that I can see does not identify these babies (angles babies) by race. (I can’t imagine why)
If you are a student midwife or a women seeking health services in the Colorado Springs, Colorado area please feel free to contact her.
- 3 Cups – Old fashioned rolled oats
- 1 1/2 Cups – Unbleached organic all purpose flour
- 5 Tbsp – Brewers yeast
- 3 Tbsp – Ground flax seed
- 1/2 Tsp – Baking soda
- 1/2 Tsp – Baking powder
- 1/2 Tsp – Ground cinnamon
- 1/4 Tsp – Salt
- 12 Tbsp – Organic unsalted butter
- 4 Tbsp – Unrefined organic virgin coconut oil
- 1 1/2 Cups – Organic cane sugar
- 1 Large egg yolk + 1 Large egg
- 2 Tsp – Vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 Cups – Dark chocolate chips
Despite a long history of midwifery in the black community, black women currently represent less than 2% of the nation’s reported 15,000 midwives. Relatedly, black women and infants experience the worst birth outcomes of any racial-ethnic cohort in the United States. And because of that once a month Tiny & Brave will be highlighting current and aspiring midwives of color. Today I will be highlighting the beautiful sister Yasmintheresa Garcia.
When did you know you were called to Midwifery?
As a young girl I had always had the aspiration to be a Doctor. My sisters always made fun and called me the bubble child because I was allergic to many things and often enjoyed visits to the doctors office. I found it so much fun to investigate everything my doctors would be doing when performing exams and suggesting prescriptions. I became an avid reader of health magazines and took full advantage of researching things about my anatomy. The female body I lived in became a masterpiece that I wanted to learn everything about since no one spoke much about its reoccurring changes in my household therefore I took initiative to learn about it myself. In junior high school two of my friends became pregnant and I immediately became their doula without knowing it was an actual occupation. I became extremely passionate about serving my sisters in learning more about their bodies. However it was not until I went away for college to California on my own, in pursuit of a fashion career that I found myself, and built up the courage to truly believe that I was capable of being that doctor I always knew I could be. It didn’t matter to me anymore that no one else believed in me. I learned going to university for fashion was not my true purpose and by then I’d survived enough to know I was capable of becoming a servant for woman in need as a midwife.
Womanhood is a privilege bestowed upon a chosen being to carry out the example of God. A true demonstration of the cycle of life. Being born and creating life in many forms throughout each transitional phase is what womanhood is to me.
What do you do for self care?
I read for mental clarity, inspiration, and spiritual healing.
I am vegan therefore I treat myself to food that heal me from inside out like fresh fruits and veggies. I also exercise daily and enjoy taking care of my beauty with home made beauty products like my favorite, coffee body scrub. I also dance in my underwear in my mirror and pray to my body in gratitude of holding up each day. I never told that to anyone.
If you can give one piece of advice in terms of becoming and/or being a midwife what would it be?
My advice to anyone becoming a midwife would be to learn the true history of midwifery from the historical granny midwives to the pioneers of modern day midwifery the Farm midwives of Summertown Tennessee. In order to respect and do this kind of work one must learn how it started and why we follow the scope of practice that differentiates us from Obstetrical care in hospitals. I would also say learn yourself as a woman, love yourself as a woman and take the best care of yourself as a woman because once you have empathy and love for yourself you are able to care for other woman in a selfless way.
What is your favorite part of your body and why?
My entire body was a gift from the universe so I love everything about it. It has been deemed a baby bearing body therefore I honor it all. But if I had to choose; My boobies. My boobies can feed my family and thats too dope! My vagina also provides protein but this is why I celebrate it all.
What is the current theme song of your life?
Rise Up by Andra Day is a reminder of the power in us we all have to live a fruitful life.
Yasmintheresa Garcia is a Brooklyn native of Afro-Dominican descent. The developer of IbiOp App; The first App that list Doulas, Midwives, OBGYNs worldwide.
Yasmintheresa works as a Midwife in training, Prenatal & Postnatal Doula, Childbirth Educator, Vegan health coach and has founded YtheGirls “Hang out.” She has always had the desire to work with the community and help it progress in any way. Through her vision, creations and experiences she is dedicated to inspire others to produce self-sustainability in their communities.
Finally an app that lists all Doulas, Midwives, OB-GYNs and more of Color: the IbiOp app. Yasmintheresa Garcia is 24 year old Afro-Dominican from East New York, Brooklyn. This Midwife in training, Doula, and Childbirth educator is recently the creator and developer of the IbiOp App.
Yasmintheresa recalls practicing being a Doula when she was 12 years old, before she even know it was a career. She began to focus on her career as a Doula to gain experience to become a midwife 3 years ago after watching the “Business of being born” documentary.
During her extensive research to find a Midwife to be her preceptor as Midwife in training, she realized the lack of accessibility there is to different medical providers. Many Midwives who have their own private practice don’t have time to update their facebook page or twitter let alone have a website. Roughly only 27 states allow Certified Professional Midwives to have their own practice outside of hospital institutions, therefore she made it her mission after training with the Farm Midwives of Summertown, TN to create a directory where not only clients can find these birth workers who specialize in natural birth, but students interested in the field also.
Since her freshmen year in college, Yasmintheresa knew that as a millennial she would have to create something in the tech world or else regret not using her knowledge of advance technology that she acquired while growing up. She came up with the idea in January of 2016 when she created a virtual vision board for the spring season and added a photo of the app store logo to remind herself everyday to research and create an app to serve the industry she works in. After intensive research and creative surges she drew up her app, gathered data, and began to work on hers. Yasmintheresa wants people to know that not all millennials are lazy. That even though she has had many doors closed in her face, she still manages to create what she wished existed, including her own opportunities.
IbiOp was created to allow women all over the world access to health care focusing on gynecology. With the IbiOp app, women can now access a directory of medical providers or labor and birth support persons anywhere in the world. This app will allow women who travel the touch of a button access to options available in their community for gynecology services or antenatal, prenatal, and postnatal support.
Women who are expecting or just concerned with their health will now have an app where they can find anything from a Midwife who does regular check ups and all well women care, to OB-GYNs who focus on high risk patients, or expecting mothers who are simply looking for labor and birth support from Doulas. The app also includes events happening worldwide that focus on women’s health, expectant mothers, and family planning.
Their goal with IbiOp is to have as many options for women to choose from when selecting a labor support person or medical provider. IbiOp will benefit every woman who has access to apps worldwide. Now an 18 year old in college who just had her first experience with a guy and wants to get checked but is to shy to walk into a clinic can find someone on the app that looks like her and who she feels comfortable with. They have even considered the woman who is pregnant and travelling who needs to see a midwife for a sudden check up in a foreign country.
Yasmintheresa is an ambitious young woman thriving in an industry that was once known for having mainly elder midwives as birth attendants and gate keepers of life and death. Today the maternity industry has women of all ages catering to mothers across the board while jumping through loopholes and creating new rights for women to be able to birth freely. She works tirelessly to fund her own Midwifery education and career and hopes that others see the necessity in support for women of color.
There is no question that best way to feed a newborn is to breastfeed. When a baby is born they constantly seek the comfort of mum because that is now their life force. Mum provides love, protection, nurture, and food of course!
Breast feeding is imperative for a babies’ development and creating the very important bond between mum and baby however many mums find themselves still in need of a comfortable breast pump to use while breastfeeding or when they have to be away from their babe.
Whether it is because you have to return back to work or school and want to insure your baby still feeds from your milk exclusively or if you are experiencing large amounts of milk being produced by your breast, you will need a comfortable, easy to use and to hide breast pump!
Well how about a breast pump that fits in your bra and no one even notices your pumping. Sounds PERFECT!
How about a breast pump that doesn’t hurt because it can fit any boob of any size?
Check out what I found. One of my new favorite products!
Willow is a set of two breast pump wearables that are meant to be worn inside a woman’s bra. An app on the wearer’s smartphone tracks volume of breast milk and time spent pumping and logs that date for later use.
Women don’t need the app to pump, however– the product works entirely on its own to encourage the let-down reflex and then adjusts pumping based on the wearer’s flow. When the bag is full, the pump stops automatically. One charge gets wearers at least five pumping sessions, and in a pinch, can do a single session on 20 minutes of charging.
“Moms have come back to us and, instead of having to hit the mute button on a conference call, they’re having a conference call and nobody knows that they’re pumping,” he said. Indeed, the pump made little noise as we spoke at Willow’s International CES booth.
SO JUST A HEADS UP AS SOON AS IT HITS THE MARKET! I’LL BE SHARING THE NEWS!
THINGS TO REMEMBER:::
How breastfeeding BENEFITS BABY
- Breastfeeding protects your baby from a long list of illnesses
- Breastfeeding can protect your baby from developing allergies
- Breastfeeding may boost your child’s intelligence
- Breastfeeding may protect your child from obesity
- Breastfeeding may lower your baby’s risk of SIDS
- Breastfeeding can reduce your stress level and your risk of postpartum depression
- Breastfeeding may reduce your risk of some types of cancer
How Breastfeeding BENEFITS MOTHER
- Breastfeeding burns extra calories, so it can help you lose pregnancy weight faster.
- Releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and reduce uterine bleeding after birth
- Lowers mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer
- May lower risk of osteoporosis
-A YtheDoula Story-
At 2:33am her labor intensified and she was now in Trans. The look on her face was psychedelic. It was as if all of her fears had whispered away as she began to surrender to her godliness. In that moment she began her transformation into this fearless warrior whose body was no longer hers but belonged to all the women who once walked in her footsteps, crouched down on their knees, and birthed nations across the oceans.
THE DIVINE INTERVENTION
I met Arlene and Charlie through divine intervention is what I like to believe. Just days before Arlene’s predicted due date, her original Birth Doula, my former classmate who trained as a Doula with me; had to leave for Africa to embark on her 6 week journey of nursing and midwifery studies. Like any responsible Doula does; Ashlie decided to contact me and refer me to the couple as their back up Doula just in case the baby came after Ashlie boarded her flight. Ashlie and I did our Birth Doula workshop together and she believed that my philosophies of birth were parallel to hers and I would be a great stand in for her if the unfortunate situation happened where she would miss the birth of the Baby. In the beginning of the week Ashlie had us get acquainted via Group chat and email. I was briefly educated on the journey that the soon to be mum and dad had been through with Ashlie. I began to feel as though I was called into this birth for a reason. My spirit guides told me that I should meet with the couple as soon as possible because I would soon be the chosen Doula for their birth.
On a Friday night after a long week, Arlene and Charlie arrived at my Harlem office with Poppa Charlie’s mother and loads of questions and apprehension up their sleeves. I was so excited to meet them but felt a weight of responsibility to be ready at any given moment to support this couple as a Doula with knowing little to nothing about who they were, how they loved, and what I could possibly pull out of their souls to provide them with the strength they needed to get through this miraculous experience. I literally had 24hrs to meet them; their souls, their spirit, and the spirit of their unborn baby through the love they expressed towards each other.
THE INITIAL CONSULTATION
I left that consultation feeling inspired by Arlene, after conversations with her and husband about her fears and joys, anticipations and expectations. I learned that there were so many warrior spirits that surrounded and raised Arlene to be the woman she is today. I wondered to myself how I would gather all this power to assist her through what I knew would be the biggest transformation in her life. With much privilege I took on the responsibility of being chosen to be her gate keeper of life and death as she welcomed the new life of her baby onto this earth and departed from herself as a woman who was not yet a mother. I gave Arlene and her husband Charlie a few days to consider hiring me as a Doula, because after all; my belief is that the baby chooses the birth Doula not the parents. They went home that night, meditated on it and emailed me way before the 24 hours to inform me that I should be ready because the baby had chosen me.
THE CASUAL YET NECESSARY CONVERSATION
My practice as a Doula is based on how I can be this woman’s keeper. My goal is to dive deep into her psyche and learn her in depth feelings about the journey she is on as a woman. I often find myself asking mum’s who are fearful of labor if, “They are ready to be a mother to this specific child.” Through my observations I have gathered that all births are different for mums and that often times when a momma is worried about her delivery it is based on a fear of what life would now be like after the baby becomes a little human right before their eyes. Therefore, I tap into my client’s emotions with genuine curiosity in search for guidance on what will be needed of me as a Doula toensure this woman is empowered by this experience. I remember asking Arlene if she was ready to be a mum. This was Arlene and Charlie’s first baby. After our in person consultation, I went home concerned by Arlene’s fear of not living long enough to see past the birth of her baby girl. She expressed that one of her fears was not being able to see far enough into her future to witness her baby grow up. I wondered if her mentality sprung from a societal repression of the Generation Y2k, whom see the world for the scary place that the media makes it out to be. I wondered what made this strong, vibrant, and joyful woman hinder her own ability to believe in the hope she had for a wonderful future with her new family. As a Libra myself, I decided there were so many layers apart from strength and perseverance that made up Arlene’s character. I learned she was a Libra who was in the process of working tirelessly to bring both sides of her family together in love and unison before the arrival of her baby. Arlene was joyful about meeting her baby but was anxious about welcoming her baby into a safe and loving environment. I assured her that nothing happens as a coincidence and that baby would be what would remind her, her family, and all who are a witness of what love, life, and adventure is truly about; the unexpected and the inevitable.
FROM CONCEPTION TO CONTEMPLATION
Around 9:00am Arlene began to update me with what her body was undergoing. Charlie was more excited with letting me know every new phase Arlene went through in the beginning of labor. I asked Charlie to keep me updated. But also to go about their day as normal as possible. The two of them began their Saturday morning with loving vibes, a stroll in the city, grocery shopping, and even having a good ole slice of pizza at a local pizza parlor. As a Doula, I was 40 minutes away with my phone attached to my hand going along with my day working my 9-5 with the readiness to come up with an excuse for my supervisor if at any given moment I had to leave for the birth of the baby. I asked Charlie to track Arlene’s labor moods, and contractions as the hours went on in order for me to know exactly when I would have to leave for Harlem from White Plains NY. It is always better to be near the laboring mum. Not necessarily with her all day, but nearby just in case the baby wants to rush into this world without notice. By 1:00pm I decided to take the train ride into the city and hang out at a local coffee shop since the text messages from Poppa Charlie were getting more dramatic by the hour. Just as new parents would react in a situation not knowing what to expect; I wanted to assure them that I would be near them for whenever they needed the in person support. By 6:00pm, Arlene’s contractions were going at every 5 minutes, 30-40 seconds long. At 7:30pm I arrived to their home. My favorite part of my Doula career is the reaction of the parents, especially the mum the moment I arrive at their door. Like most mums in their homes during labor, I walked in to Arlene cleaning. It is almost an innate reaction that a woman has while laboring at home to begin cleaning to get her mind off labor and keep distracted from the process. However from a birth worker’s perspective; I know too well that this kind of behavior is anxiety manifesting its form of cleansing out the old energies in preparation for the new energies and new life coming into the home. Then again Arlene is Colombian; historically many Hispanic and African cultures the woman always cleans when they have a lot on their mind. Can you blame us? It is extremely therapeutic. A clean space equals a clear mind.
Upon Charlie opening the door, Arlene saw me and my bright cheesy smile that followed with a joke, “What are you doing? Cleaning? Why? Wheres the party? I asked. She smiled with joy. A spirit of peace came over her. It was such a privilege seeing her sweep the broom across the living room so calmly as if she had no care in the world because now her Doula was there. Little did she know she was going to be the one doing all the work; the cleaning included. It helps for a mum to be active during contractions and I wasn’t going to be the one to take that away from her. I made this very clear to her through many jokes. The night progressed smoothly as both mum and dad insisted in catering to me as if I was a guest of honor. I had to remind them that I did not need anything to drink or eat but that I was there to serve them and make sure they had everything they needed to be comfortable and Zen. During Arlene’s contractions, Charlie would tend to her like a Lion romancing his lioness, gallantly protecting and nurturing her yet secretly adoring her with all his gratitude as she labored their unborn baby.
THE EFFECTS OF AN UNEXPECTED GUEST
At around 9:40pm unbeknownst to me the unexpected happened. As a birth Doula and future midwife I have strong beliefs about who should be present at a woman’s birth. Most pregnant women don’t usually conceptualize how spiritual the birthing journey can be. Nor do they consider how powerful each individual presence involved during the labor can be. It is highly important for all of those who are in the presence of the laboring mum to be invited and to only be there to serve the situation with physical, spiritual, and emotional support. That being said, no one who is fearful of the processes of labor should ever be in the presence of a birthing woman. Energy is very real and while a woman is laboring she is literally in between two realms; the realm of life and of death and as she travels spiritually in and out of this dimension she gathers strength and purpose from all her ancestors and all her predecessors in order to birth her child.Therefore it is my duty as her Doula to protect the space for her to travel freely and peacefully.
Suddenly I heard a key turning in the door of the apartment and my heart dropped. I didn’t want to believe what I knew was already manifesting. After all, Charlie and Arlene made it very clear to me that Arlene’s mother in law; Charlie’s mother was not going to be in attendance during the laboring process of their baby. That she would only be allowed in the waiting room during the delivery as she expected her first grandchild. Arlene was doing so well during her contractions that we all found it so comical how she would be telling a story and sharing jokes but then in a split second she would close her eyes and disappear into a wave of energy that both Charlie and I could only imagine what kind of roller coaster ride it felt like. Like clockwork, Arlene was at a steady pace of 40 second contractions every 3 minutes by now but then the door opened.
It was Charlie’s mother. All of my attention was glued to Arlene when I noticed her shift in energy the moment she saw her mother in law come into the house. I quickly accessed the situation and realized that the couple was not expecting her arrival to the home before they went to the hospital. As I continued to look at my watch in monitoring Arlene’s contractions I became worried when I noticed that she was no longer contracting every three minutes. She had stopped contracting for 10 whole minutes now and I quickly decided she needed a change of environment away from her mother in law. I asked her to come with me to her bedroom and I brought it to her attention; how her energy became bothered and unsteady the moment her mother in law walked in. She shared with me how she loved her mother in law but that her cigarette smoke scent and the past week full of horrifying birth stories from her was what she feared having to experience at that moment.
FROM A WARRIORS BELIEF CAME BABY CHARLIE
It was in this defining moment that I realized how much value my work as a Doula truly has. As I paint this picture I wish for all to imagine for just a moment this beautiful yet chaotic energetic chain of events that led to the minutes that introduced baby girl Charley into this earth.
By 10:30pm mum had progressed in labor and the energies of the home felt a bit more peaceful. Mother in law was staying out the way by suddenly picking up the responsibility that every Afro-latina woman is graced with during any moment of anxiety and she began cleaning every inch of her son’s apartment. As I monitored Arlene, she began to not be able to voice her labor progression and the jokes were now one sided. It was then that I prepared mentally to schedule our next moves. My duty was to keep calm, and get poppa to order this Uber, make sure mom in law continued to scrub the floor somewhere in the back, and help Arlene feel safe every time she transitioned further and further away from her natural state of consciousness in order to bare the labor pains.
No surprise at all when I was approached with the duties of ensuring mum would stay mentally in the birthing zone. It almost became a game every time Arlene will have a 3 minute break between contractions and start asking everyone if they had everything they needed. She asked if we had her IDs, did we have the suitcase, did I have everything I needed. I was like, “Arlene, focus on birthing this baby and let us handle everything.”She even suggested we all take a selfie in the elevator on our way to meet the Uber. I couldn’t wait to tell the Uber driver about how important this ride was for him as much as it was for us. Shout out to that Handsome African Uber driver who was so impressed by Arlene’s powerful handle on the situation she was dealt. It made me so happy to be apart of a man from Africa witnessing an American woman labor so gracefully with no complaints. The whole ride to the hospital he kept affirming her ability to do it. We all became Doulas in that car ride!
Upon arriving to the hospital I had to mentally prepare myself for the worst. Being a birth Doula in hospitals can be very challenging when working to keep mum at peace in a very chaotic and stoic environment. Arlene was 4 centimeters when we arrived and the nurses suggested that she leave for two hours and come back when her labor had progressed. Imagine the disappointment when we hear this after thinking we did most of the work at home. It was game time for me.
My job was to make the best of the situation at hand which was the reality that Arlene and her husband would have to labor in this hallway waiting room with other expecting families staring. I quickly positioned her crouched over a big medicine ball, pulled out my headphones from my bag and activated her prepared playlist. She was officially gone. By 1am she had advance a few centimeters and her contractions were getting stronger. There were moments where I had to coach her like a sports player to get up off the floor or switch positions in order for her to keep her blood circulating and get the baby to move downward. I had to make sure she was comfortable and not cramping her legs by being on her knees for too long.
Charlie was so loving throughout the whole process and only wanted to ensure that she wasn’t in too much pain. Charlie kept Arlene comfortable the whole time and would kiss her and keep his hand on her to remind her that he will never leaver her side especially in their toughest moments. It was magical to bare witness to a poetic love story I was just beginning to read. Many moments occurred when I would look away from Arlene and see her mother in law right behind her rubbing her back the whole time, while we were on the floor, when we moved to the middle of the hallway against the wall. I realized that mother in law understood why I was there. Here was this 60 something year old lady whose had traumatizing births in the same city was now witnessing her daughter in law have an empowering experience with a dream team who was supporting her every time she moved, had to pee, or needed us to hold a cubby for her to throw up in while we stood in the middle of the hallway. It was in that moment that I knew my job was to be the Doula for this whole family who was learning the true beauty of natural labor.
By 2am Arlene’s moans made a roaring entrance into a very quiet scene. It was time. Charlie had Arlene come off the elevator after a walk alone together around the floor below us and as they stood in the elevator she had to step out because baby was coming. In the elevator hall way they stood and Arlene let out a roar like a warrior who had led all her people to the promise land but was tired as heck. Her body collapsed over the arms of her husband and her water broke. I stood watching everything from the glass doors confident that this was my place just making sure they knew I was close enough to assure them that all of what was happening was completely normal.
It took only 2 seconds after her roar for Mother in law to flee to the scene while asking me if she was okay. I explained that she was fine. Her water just broke and there is amniotic fluid on the floor and its time; but she’s doing great! Mother in law rushed to get through the door just like a momma bear wanting to protect and save all and anyone in distress. I almost had to box out mother in law from the energetic bubble the couple was in to make sure that her fears wouldn’t freak out Arlene or Charlie. I knew I had to watch out for mother in law the moment she rushed in asking if everything was okay which transmuted into Charlie taking all the napkins he had in his pocket and started cleaning the wet floor while trying to hold up his wife. I laughed. And quickly gave everyone a small speech in our hallway huddle, “Charlie leave that there, I am sure they are use to having women’s fluids everywhere around here. Mother in law, this is normal. She is now ready to deliver baby. Arlene, you did it! You are at the end of your marathon and your so close to meeting your baby.” Within minutes we get her admitted into her room and Arlene delivers a beautiful baby girl in which no one knew the sex of before meeting her.
They named her Charley in honor of her daddy. I never seen a love so quiet yet powerful between two people the way I have witnessed between Arlene and Charlie. That morning I had battled more negative spirits and transmuted negative energy into positive than I ever had in such a short period of almost 12 hours. I wrestled with mother in laws negative experiences and fears and watched her transform her birthing beliefs by watching how calm and graceful her daughter in law was during her whole labor. I then had to tame the energy in the room while comments of a prejudice P.A. insisted in telling us how well women of color delivery babies because “Our bodies were meant to reproduce.” I, as a Doula have been honored to be asked to create a sacred space for this family to welcome their baby girl no matter what was happening around them.
After two hours and smiling faces and a now topless Father Charlie, I knew my job that morning was done. After a twelve hour shift I was ready to go home, rest, and regroup. Baby was beautiful and healthy and grandma was overjoyed and impressed beyond belief of how well her daughter in law and son went through the journey of childbirth.
A week later I visited Arlene, Charlie, and Baby girl Charlie at home. Mother in law had gone back home to puerto rico and the home smelled like love and new born baby. The couple remembered everything except some of the funnier moments I would have to keep out of this story because I can easily make this into a novel. We shared pictures and drooled over how adorable baby Charley was. After making sure the couple was in high spirits and in love I was overjoyed especially when they confirmed their gratitude for my Doula services. To make a long story short, we are good friends now and I can’t wait to see Baby Charley the warrior princess grow into a Queen like her mum one day.
~ YtheGarcia Q1-2017
“At a birthing, the mother is the main channel of life force. If she is cooperative and selfless and brave, it makes there be more energy for everyone, including her baby who is getting born. Giving somebody some makes you and everyone else feel good. You don’t have your baby out yet to cuddle and hold; so giving the midwives and your husband some is giving your baby some. If you are in a hospital, you can make there be more energy by finding someone you can connect and be friends with.
During a rush, keep your eyes open, and keep paying attention to those around you and to what’s happening. If you feel afraid or if something is happening that makes you uptight, report it—the midwives can help sort it out until it feels good.
Don’t complain, it makes things worse. If you usually complain, practice not doing it during pregnancy. It will build character.
Talk nice; it will keep your bottom loose so it can open up easier. It’s okay to ask the midwives or your husband to do something for you, like rub your legs or get a glass of water. Ask real nice and give folks “folks some when they do something for you.
Be grateful that you’re having a baby, and be grateful to your partner who’s helping you—it’s an experience that you only do a few times in your life, so make the very most of it, and get your head in a place where you can get as high as possible.
Remember you have a real, live baby in there. Sometimes it’s such an intense trip having a baby that you can forget what it’s for!
Learn how to relax—it’s something that requires attention. You may have to put out some effort to gather your attention together enough that you can relax.
Keep your sense of humor—it’s a priceless gem which keeps you remembering where it’s at. If you can’t be a hero, you can at least be funny while being a chicken.
Remember your monkey self knows how to do this really well. Your brain isn’t very reliable as a guide of how to be during childbirth, but your monkey self is.”
Excerpt From: Ina May Gaskin. “Spiritual Midwifery.” Book Publishing Company. iBooks.
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