Birth Stories in Color
Summary: Preparation for pregnancy, birth and parenthood can take many forms. Here at Birth Stories in Color, we emphasize the role of storytelling as a way to equip future parents. Listening to real birth stories is one way to discover the expected and unexpected parts of the journey. We realize that there are birthing stories not being heard. Birth Stories in Color is also a space for people of color to share their birthing experiences. A space that specifically celebrates, mourns with and supports people of color and their transformation through birth. We hope that all who share and listen find it to be a community near and far, and an invaluable resource for navigating their own journey.
Two things we learned from Kimberly, there is power in your intuition and normalizing birth for older siblings! During the birth of the new baby, her children went about their regular routines but were always welcomed to join her as she labored throughout the house. We love that after the birth of her daughter, Kimberly sons, snuggled next to her on the living room couch and just observed her postpartum care and their new sister. Taking it all in, for them, this is birth, at home surrounded in love!
While her pregnancy and birth were healthy and easy to navigate, postpartum required more of Lara. She fell easily into her routine before baby but soon realized that she was starting to feel the weight of this new transition. Lara sought out support from her midwife and realized that what she was experiencing was affecting not only her relationship with Alfredo but also her bond with her daughter Layla. Lara got serious about her journey with postpartum depression and acquired professional help. She notes that it's on ongoing, she still has flare-ups, yet the most important and valuable thing for her is recognizing the time when she needs extra support and honoring that!
Parenthood as a whole has this way of requiring you to surrender. Surrendering to the unknown, knowing though, that it's going to be a beautiful journey. When Laurel was finally able to yield she describes her son's birth as transformative for her relationship with herself mentally and physically. Many people claim birth to be a rebirth for the birthing person; her story is a reflection of that.
As you listen to Simone's story, you realize that even when we prepare to the fullest extent, pregnancy and birth can still cause anxiety. As a doula, Simone had to remind herself to get out of her head constantly. Trusting the process of birth and being entirely in touch with her body and baby. The day that her son was born, she did that, as she states, her knowledge and experience couldn't prep her for everything yet when she was present in what was happening "she felt labor, she felt the birth" of her son.
There were many aspects of her birth that Isabella expected. However, the speed at which her son arrived, caught her and her husband by surprise! Soon after her water broke, contractions began coming fast and fierce. She explains that when her midwife arrived, she looked at both her and her husband and told them she could feel the baby's head. Isabella followed the intuition of her body and birthed her son in their bedroom, squatting with the support of her husband.
The Educated Birth provides educational materials for birth workers to help in preparing the families they support. They represent the diverse families within our community while being both inclusive and informative. Cheyenne began The Educated Birth initially out of necessity for her clients. She soon discovered that many other birth workers were craving the need for what she was offering, and with that, she opened The Educated Birth shop.
All five of Amy's children were born unassisted in her home. A deliberate decision made by her and her partner as they wanted to ensure the sacred moment of the birth of their children was led and governed by their decisions. For those unfamiliar with unassisted birth, families who choose to create this birth space usually birth without the support of doctors or midwives. Through her births, Amy was able to find healing from past trauma and now guides other families who want to have the same experience.
While the primary focus of Birth Stories in Color is birth storytelling, we also want to highlight organizations and resources that are supporting our communities and families on their pregnancy, birth and postpartum journeys. In this episode, we hear from India Robertson COO for Birthing Beautiful Communities (BBC). An organization that is working with and for the community to combat infant mortality and inadequate care for African American families.
Birth plans/preferences can be a key component of birth prep, and while they keep us on track to make sure our birth stories represent our choices, they often change following the lead of labor. Chae and her husband didn't let these changes shift their focus or silence their voices. They made sure that when their birth plan changed, they still felt in charge and empowered in their decisions.
In this episode, we meet Yolanda Owens who shares with us a story of perseverance, strength, trust and leaning on a community. While her pregnancy was pretty easy, labor and delivery for Yolanda were long and at times very tough. Throughout much of her story, she expresses how vital a role her husband played in being her birth helper and advocate. During their early visits with their care provider, they informed her that doulas were not allowed, a practice that some care providers and hospitals do have in place for their patients. When trying to figure out how to move forward, Yolanda expresses that her husband immediately assured her that he could fulfill that role for her!
Nicole Braddy is sharing her family's story of faith and promises kept through the birth of her first child. Nicole and her husband, Bryan, were married in January and soon learned they were expecting their first child together. She loves to share their story as an opportunity to teach other families about the onset and complications of preeclampsia and navigating the NICU. The Braddy family was able to endure a harrowing experience that left them feeling victorious and strengthened as a new family.
Each of Dasha's birth stories is different. With her first child, she was a teen mother. While the journey was unexpected, she found her stride with the support of her family. Her second birth, she took control, from the moment labor started until she was holding her baby in her arms. For her last birth, Dasha exclaims that she's grateful. The state of her relationship with her husband at the time had taken a toll on her pregnancy and birth, yet she birthed her daughter with no complications. Her stories allow us to reflect on the importance of childbirth education, informed consent, trusting our bodies and being mindful of our relationships with others.
Today’s episode features Caitlin Hatt, sharing her successful VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). With her first daughter’s birth, Caitlin and her husband envisioned an unmedicated and vaginal birth experience. Due to a number of factors, this was not the case and Juniper was born via emergency c-section. Caitlin ensured that for her next birth she was well educated to have a different experience, focusing on education, tools, and support for an unmedicated VBAC. Using that knowledge and the support of a doula, Caitlin was able to give birth to Lou in the way she hoped for.
Welcome to Birth Stories in Color! A podcast creating a community for people of color to share and learn from birth stories of all types. In this first episode, you meet your hosts Laurel Gourrier and Danielle Jackson, both serving their community as birth and postpartum doulas. Danielle will also be sharing her two hospital births. While her first birth was overshadowed by her health history, she still finds confidence in its success. That self-confidence and knowledge helped her power through her second birth.