Give birth on your own terms.
Ep. 37 - "Advocacy is putting the birthing person first" | Sabia Wade
* Recorded October 2019 *
In this episode of Birth Allowed Radio I am honored to speak with Sabia Wade, a Black, queer, full-spectrum doula in San Diego. She is the owner of Birthing Advocacy Doula Trainings, and Executive Director of For The Village, a reproductive justice non-profit providing free doula services to low-income and marginalized groups in the San Diego Area.
We dive into the topic of advocacy and doulas - including how advocacy is defined in different populations and communities, and the affects of racism in the birth world. We also talk about the complicated communication dynamics for doulas - including how to navigate tricky conversations, how to read the room, how to identify who you can and can’t talk to you, the value of doulas and the importance of making a sustainable living in birth work.
IN HER WORDS:
“There’s so many different ways that you can advocate for somebody, and even with the clients that I work with, I feel like advocacy and what they expect from advocacy looks different de-pending on who they are, their income level, their race, their gender, their sexual identity. All the different things contribute to advocacy but it looks different depending on the person’s lens.”
Follow Sabia at her website (https://theblackdoula.com/), and on Instagram @theblackdoula.
For more information on Birthing Advocacy Doula Trainings, visit birthingadvocacy.org, or Instagram @birthingadvocacy.
Visit For the Village online (https://forthevillage.org/) and at Instagram @forthevillageinc.
Go here to see the Evidence Based Birth® article, Evidence on: Doulas, which defines and examines advocacy: https://evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas/.
Ep. 36 - Giving Birth in 1979 - Michelle Pascucci, Cristen's Mom
As I celebrated my birthday this month, I realized I had never really talked to my mother about my own birth story. Join me in reliving that experience with my mom, Michelle Pascucci, as she recalls what it was like to give birth - and feed a newborn - in 1979. While she had a great experience with childbirth education, there were times in the hospital she wished she was provided more guidance.
“When they said ‘do you want an epidural?’ I’m familiar with it, but don’t know what’s going to happen. And so when I got numb, then I’m realizing ‘oh, that’s what the epidural does.’”
As my mom and I delved into some family history, I also discovered some fascinating details about my maternal grandmother--who was a nurse for 50 years--including her relationship with the healthcare system during her time and some deep trauma that she suffered in her relationship with doctors. The story of that trauma, which I had never before heard even a whisper of, blew my mind.
“My mom gave herself to her work in the health department - she did it the way she had always done it - but she carried that heaviness of not being able to reconcile his death along with vowing never to work in a hospital again.”
This program is supported by Attorney Susan Jenkins, specializing in business, governmental, and political issues related to birthing rights and the practice of midwifery. Reach her at 866-686-1348.
Support Birth Allowed Radio! Contact us here (BirthAllowedRadio@gmail.com).
Ep. 35 - From the Doulas: Expert Advice for Birthing Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic
We are really in the midst of some major disruption for birthing families, in an already fragile healthcare system. In this episode of Birth Allowed Radio, I called on two seasoned doulas and members of the Birth Monopoly "Know Your Rights" community to provide a grounded and strategic perspective for the families who need it most.
Miri Halliday of Spokane, WA is a birth doula and childbirth educator, and Lisa Gould Rubin of Burlington, VT is a doula, childbirth educator, and has had a virtual doula practice for over 10 years.
Together we tackle the tough conversations surrounding doula access to their clients in hospitals and increased pressure on birthing families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Miri and Lisa reveal what they’re telling their families on how to prepare, what to expect at the hospital, how to cope under societal trauma, and what doulas, partners, and birthing mothers can control.
“Everybody’s operating out of this place of fear and scarcity in terms of support and all of this unknown, and it is the worst thing that we want people to be feeling now that they are on the verge of having babies.” - Lisa Gould Rubin
“There are going to be clients who are going to say - ‘I refuse. I’m going to have this baby in the lobby unless my doula comes with me.’” - Miri Halliday
Connect with Lisa Gould Rubin at thegoodbirthproject.com (http://thegoodbirthproject.com/), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TheGoodBirthProject/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/GoodBirthProject/).
Follow Miri Halliday at hallidoula.com (https://www.hallidoula.com/), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/hallidoula) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/the_oaky_afterbirth/).
Click here (https://birthmonopoly.com/covid-19/) for all Birth Monopoly COVID-19 resources, including the Hospital Policy Tracker for Doulas and Visitors.
Click here (https://birthmonopoly.com/3-things/) for all you need to know about the updated Birth Monopoly course, “3 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Hospital Birth.”
For the latest COVID-19 research and resources from Evidence Based Birth®, including the Virtual Doula Directory, click here (https://evidencebasedbirth.com/covid19/).
"I Love My Scar" | Melissa Pizzo on Why Cesarean Moms Need Doulas, Too!
Melissa Pizzo has had four babies by Cesarean, and four completely different experiences! With her last birth, a scheduled Cesarean, she knew what she wanted and she made sure she got it. That included hiring a doula to hold emotional space for her and her husband in the OR. How ever babies are born, it's a special and sacred time, and one where the emotional, psychological, and social needs of the person giving birth should be priorities.
In Her Words:
I really embrace that this is what was supposed to be and this is how it is and I have these experiences--like, going from my first cesarean to my fourth cesarean, and seeing the progress and what has changed, I think that that part is where I can be like, oh my gosh, I’ve really grown! And I’ve really been able to voice what I want and what I need. And then being able to feel heard is very important. So those things have happened for me compared to that first birth when I didn’t feel heard and I didn’t feel like I had a voice, and I didn’t feel empowered at all. And I walked away very, very traumatized. To then have a completely different experience on the other side of it with my fourth cesarean.
Hiring a doula for me [in the fourth birth] was really important for several reasons. One was to have someone in the room so that my husband can kind of focus on his own feelings, his own experience of the birth… And I want someone there to say what’s happening, what’s going, and also how are you feeling right now and rubbing my forehead. Just soothing me, while my husband doesn’t have to.
Another thing that our doula did for us is she took pictures, which is amazing. Who doesn’t want pictures of your birth?
There were other moments, too. Before I went into the OR, they were having a hard time getting an IV in. I was getting poked so many times, I was having a real meltdown at that point--like, we are not doing this! And Carrie was there, my doula, to be able to really talk to me and calm me down and she took out a little back massaging thing and definitely calmed my nerves, which was needed at that time.
Some friends, some family members, might say something like, “You should just feel happy because your baby is healthy and nothing was wrong.” And I think that those words are not helpful. Not one bit. Because it is okay to say I’m so happy that I have a baby and I’m also sad that the birth didn’t go the way I wanted it to go.
It’s really, really important that we love our scars. And that we are grateful for them. And that we take care of them. It’s a very tender spot now! It’s definitely still a work in progress, but it’s something I strive for. That I love my scar and that it birthed my babies and that I look at it and I’m like, wow, you are an amazing woman who was able to give birth four times this other way.
"We Are Changing the Conversation on Doulas & Advocacy" | Doula Trainer Nickie Tilsner
Advocacy, burnout, self care, sustainability, and the patriarchy--they're all in this episode! Our guest is Nickie Tilsner, the co-executive director and lead trainer of Cornerstone Doula Trainings, and co-author of RE:BIRTH - The childbirth preparation guide for all people to have an informed, dignified and joyful birth in any setting (due for release early Fall). Also announcing a first-ever collaboration between Birth Monopoly and a doula training organization to offer rights training to new doulas!!! The "Rights Informed Birth Advocate" certification will be offered through Cornerstone starting July 2019.
> In her words
In order to thrive in the work and have sustainability: feeding your purpose is what really holds resilience and what is actually being trauma informed for yourself and looking at things through a strengths based lens. And feeding your purpose is knowing that you’re effective in the work and being able to really embody the work. And in think that’s what’s going to keep people really going in this and feeling great about the work they’re doing and enjoying it.
I burnt out about three years into my practice when I first started and had to take a break and came back with a new way of looking at things. I’m still learning what being trauma informed for myself means.
Doulas and birth workers and anyone else in this space need to understand, your brain cannot discern whether this is happening to someone else or if it’s happening to you, when you’re in the situation. And even when you hear traumatic stories, your brain goes into a trauma response. This vicarious trauma is real.
I want this to be a part of every dialogue when it comes to birth and birth work… Number one, how we view advocacy as birth workers, number two, how we view ourselves as less powerful than other people in the room, number three, how we are silent and how our silence is complicity.
Cornerstone's next labor and birth doula training, including the "Rights Informed Birth Advocate" certification in collaboration with Birth Monopoly (!!), starts July 12 in Oakland, CA: https://www.cornerstonedoulatrainings.com/sign-up. More to come after that!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like your organization to offer Know Your Rights training, too!
Ep. 32 - "I'm not vulnerable any more." | Katherine DiPaulo on Alleged Sexual Assault During Labor
**TW: Alleged Sexual Assault and Birth Assault**
This is Katherine DiPaulo's story. She alleges she was sexually assaulted by an obstetrician at a Philadelphia-area hospital in 2005. She has not been able to hold him accountable.
Ms. DiPaulo would like to connect with other victims. If you have experienced sexual assault in your obstetric care in the Philadelphia area, please get in touch with us at email@example.com or complete this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1SURd8e1KBVdm4vcG47Xab-FwKnqUCXO8tbJeqaWB1_k. Your privacy will be respected to the fullest.
> In her words:
Had I angered him, it could have been a lot worse. I was doing what I had to do to protect my baby and myself. But I still have a lot of guilt and shame and anger at myself for not stopping it, not doing something. But my body was frozen and in shock.
I repressed what happened although it never left me. I started to have chronic insomnia, ... panic attacks, anxiety and depression, difficulty in my marriage. I have flashbacks all the time of this person. I have flashbacks of the event itself. I'm hyper vigilant. I'm scared I'm going to run into him in the grocery store.
To be honest, I think if I do see him, I'm going to tell him off, because I'm no longer in that vulnerable position, being in labor and hooked up to all of these IVs and monitors. So, I'm not vulnerable any more, so there's a part of me that still has the strength that if I do see him, I'm going to tell him off.
At this point, I'm so furious about it and just want to put it out there so other women can prevent something like this from happening to them.
> Related episode: "'I found my voice and I'm not stopping' | Sexually Assaulted by Her OB, Marissa Hoechstetter Fights Back": https://birthmonopoly.com/episode-29/
> Know Your Rights: Legal and Human Rights in Childbirth for Birth Professionals and Advocates: https://birthmonopoly.com/know-your-rights-course/