131 episodes

Birth Stories in Color is a podcast for Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latino, and Multiracial individuals to share their birthing experiences - a space that specifically celebrates, mourns with and supports them and their transformation through birth.

Birth Stories in Color also emphasizes 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 birth stories not being heard. Our hope is that all who share and listen find this platform to be a community near and far, and an invaluable resource for navigating their own journey.

Birth Stories in Color Laurel Gourrier & Danielle Jackson

    • Kids & Family

Birth Stories in Color is a podcast for Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latino, and Multiracial individuals to share their birthing experiences - a space that specifically celebrates, mourns with and supports them and their transformation through birth.

Birth Stories in Color also emphasizes 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 birth stories not being heard. Our hope is that all who share and listen find this platform to be a community near and far, and an invaluable resource for navigating their own journey.

    131 | Unplanned Homebirth - Erica Maddox

    131 | Unplanned Homebirth - Erica Maddox

    Joining us for her second birth story share, Erica Maddox came back with a whole new set of skills as an experienced birth worker, allowing her to show up for herself in a way that helped her create an experience that helped her heal. Erica was a teen mom when she experienced early delivery with her first child. Twelve years later, she would deliver her son early, but she prepared herself for that happening, as she asked to have her cervix measured throughout the pregnancy. Awareness and preparation proved to be critical components of having the birth she wanted.

    Labor would be intense and quick, but it was familiar, and Erica had called her sister to the home as she made preparations for her oldest child, whom she hadn’t planned for, to be there. Erica was intentional about not shifting the plan or boundaries with her daughter in which she had not prepared for that role. She and the baby went to the hospital, accompanied by her sister. Erica shared that she had delivered the baby at home and was coming to be checked out. The hospital staff greeted them with lots of questions and astonishment. They were ready to start their protocols, but Erica made them pause and advocated to maintain their bonding time. They relaxed a bit once they knew she was a birth worker. Her self-advocacy allowed her to maintain a gentle transition of environment for her and her newborn.

    In the spirit of intentionality, Erica created a plan for her postpartum care to protect her mental and physical health. Building a healthy support system has been the key to developing a healthy family structure for their family. Removing the superwoman persona and allowing her world to shift and change as needed with grace is proving to be the best practice.

    • 32 min
    130 | Birth Rooted Overseas - Rokhaya Ndiaye

    130 | Birth Rooted Overseas - Rokhaya Ndiaye

    With a history of irregular menstrual cycles, Rokhaya decided to download an app to help her track them better. In early December, she was surprised to get a notification that her cycle was three days late. Ignoring it for a little bit, but with time passing and no change, Rokhaya and her husband found out they would be expecting on Christmas day. Restrictions from the pandemic would require a 14-day quarantine and needed to get the COVID vaccine if they decided to travel back to Canada. Wanting to wait out her options, Rokhaya paused on that decision. With her first trimester having some challenges, her doctors recommended she should not travel if possible. Moving into her second trimester, she focused on preparing for her birth, but by the time things began reopening, she was past the point of travel being safe, and Jamaica became the place their birth story would occur.

    Five days past her estimated due date, Rokhaya began having light contractions about 7-9 minutes apart. With things progressing quickly, Rokhaya and her husband decided to head to the hospital. Upon being admitted, Rokhaya was 6cm, and her water broke shortly after. Reflecting on her birth, Rokhaya thought her son would have come earlier than he did. She had done so much work on focusing on coping with the pain; she couldn't listen to her body that her baby was ready to come earthside. It wasn't until the nurse told her her baby's head was out that she focused, and within three pushes, "prince" Ali was born.

    In the immediate postpartum, Rokhaya felt comforted by the community of women she was surrounded by - as, in Jamaica, there aren't separate quarters, and the women all stay together. Ali was born unresponsive, and after having a couple of seizures, the doctors wanted to keep him for monitoring. For Rokhaya, she could not have her golden hour and was discharged without him for ten days. The first 6-7 weeks were hard for her, navigating her healing, Ali's recovery, and breastfeeding. She and her husband found that when they were able to listen to Ali, the better they did, being able to communicate and figure out what he needed allowing them to find their footing in parenthood.

    • 44 min
    129 | Victorious Together - Chelsea Butler

    129 | Victorious Together - Chelsea Butler

    Chelsea always knew that her first child would be a son. However, she couldn't predict the circumstances of when she would become pregnant. A global pandemic would bring her aspirations of acting to a screeching halt as production stopped. She shifted gears as she needed to prepare for caring for herself and a new baby. Emotional issues developed as her relationship with her partner deteriorated. She felt alone. Depression set in, and conflict with friends and family grew.

    Elevated blood pressure, news that the baby was determined to be large for his gestational age, and gestational diabetes concerns overshadowed her birth plan hopes. Her provider started discussing a surgical birth before she had an opportunity to labor. She disagreed with her OB/GYN's preeclampsia diagnosis and decided to change from hospital birth to a birth center that could support her plans. The midwives at the birth center agreed to accept her for care. She didn't feel connected to them or fully confident about the birthing space, but she pushed forward as it seemed like a better option than the hospital.

    Chelsea's membranes ruptured, and she contacted the birth center. She was told to rest and give herself time, and she eventually went in to have her fluid tested for amniotic fluid. After two days of leaking and intense back pain, she contacted the midwives, and they told her to wait again. She reported to the birth center on the third day, and her rupture was confirmed. However, she had not dilated despite feeling like her body had completed a lot of work. She kept herself active and wanted to use water therapy to support her comfort. She would manage the labor, but her cervix did not dilate. She would eventually transfer to the hospital to manage the rest of her labor. The hospital shift was challenging mentally and physically. Chelsea reached ten cms and immediately started to push even though her son was still high in her pelvis. A surgical birth became her last option, and it was quickly discovered that her baby had swallowed meconium and had fluid in his lungs. In addition, she had nearly hemorrhaged. She reflected on the intensity and degree of interventions in the hospital; everything she had wanted for her birth had crumbled. She felt disconnected from the people caring for her and the space she was in.

    Carrying all of the trauma home with her new baby would be a rollercoaster. Therapy and group support have helped. She has also connected with the women in her family to help build her connections and heal. Healing comes one day at a time with intention.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    128 | Mother the Mother - Megana Dwarakanath

    128 | Mother the Mother - Megana Dwarakanath

    Megana knew that she wanted a family, and before meeting her husband, she had even considered taking on the role of parenting without a partner. But soon after moving to a new city, she met her husband; they fell in love and began discussing expanding their family. They both wanted to have two kids before Megana got a bit older and had planned to start trying to conceive after getting married. But their March 2020 wedding was canceled due to the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading them to move forward with a small ceremony and begin trying to conceive in May.

    As a healthcare worker (pediatrician), Megana was aware of the studies around birthing folks in her field having two times the rate of infertility than others. Many of her friends in residency with her had shared their struggles with infertility. With that in mind, she was emotionally prepared to have some struggles of her own with conceiving but was grateful that she was pregnant within three months of trying. The beginning of her pregnancy was layered with many parts. They were going to be moving cross country; she had lost both her grandparents, dealing with the pandemic and also working through the pandemic and didn't fully have care established where they were moving; Megana describes that time as "surreal."

    Amongst her birth preparation, she was journaling, reading, and listening to positive birth stories and remained active, running up to her 39th week of pregnancy. Her due date came and went, making Megana uneasy as she knew she was losing time from her maternity leave. Her jobs maternity leave policy would give her 12 weeks, and she had already begun using some time waiting on the arrival of her baby. Taking that into consideration, Megana elected to support her progress with an induction. Induction included two doses of misoprostol, moving her quickly into intense labor. Reviewing all her options and managing the frequency and intensity of her contractions, which had started putting her baby in distress - Megana decided to have an epidural to provide them some rest and allow her body the space it needed to continue to progress. After about an hour and a half of pushing, her daughter was born. Megana did suffer from a 2nd/3rd-degree periclitoral and labial tear, which would impact her in ways she wasn't prepared for.

    Within her great support village, Megana's sister would be the guiding light in helping her navigate all the new transitions. The reality of how debilitating her tear was, combined with the level of rest she needed and what maternity leave entailed for caring and bonding with her daughter Megana was falling into a postpartum anxiety/depression cycle. With the support of her sister, they established some concrete strategies to guide her through this time and enable her healing.

    Megana's journey with an extremely short maternity leave due to the American Board of Pediatrics policies has led her to be a driving force for changing maternity leave policy. She wrote an oped that has changed policies in her department and has a postpartum group for other South Asian women to discuss some of the cultural misogyny and expectations they contend with. Check these essential resources out in the show notes.

    • 45 min
    127 | Friendship to Family - Giánni & Ron

    127 | Friendship to Family - Giánni & Ron

    Giánni and Ron expanded their family in 2019 and 2020, welcoming two beautiful daughters to fortify their new marriage. They were already parents building their blended family, but these pregnancies connected all of the dots and allowed them both to journey through the highs and lows of creating a new life together. They were both interested in having mature and intentional pregnancy experiences.

    The first pregnancy was without complications, and Giánni was able to have the labor and delivery she had hoped for. Upon learning she was pregnant again shortly after her birth, Giánni and Ron paused and carefully considered if and how they would move forward with this pregnancy. She had made plans for her life's next steps and knew that committing to bring forth another life could prompt her to delay some of her dreams. They chose to maintain the pregnancy as their family members had recently endured the loss of an infant due to stillbirth. They felt called and chosen to accept this gift.

    Giánni's second pregnancy occurred as the pandemic was shifting the daily lives of everyone. It brought health challenges that would make the pregnancy hard on her physically and mentally - including not knowing if Ron would be present for the birth. He had fallen ill around the same time as her induction and was admitted to the same hospital. She had the support of her ROOTT doula but was thankful that Ron would be discharged, joining her for the birth of their child within a couple of hours of her delivery. She would continue to have to monitor her health to stabilize her blood pressure with the support of the doctor and doula as they continued postpartum care.

    Vulnerability was and has been the key to working as a team and building a solid foundation for their family. Ron articulated the need for fathers to have spaces to come without pretense or thought about who they are, their occupations, or social status. He also acknowledged the need for partners to create space for their wives to have time for themselves to recharge and work on their dreams. Giánni and Ron were able to come to each other with their needs by defaulting to the friendship they had before marriage. Giánni exclusively breastfed, and she found herself often feeling "touched out." Ron stepped in to help with researching and supporting Giánni until she was able to build herself up as well. Balancing four children proved to be challenging as they all needed something different from their parents. Breakdowns come, and they have kept up their communication and are persevering.

    • 40 min
    126 | Blocking Out the Noise - Charlene McCraney

    126 | Blocking Out the Noise - Charlene McCraney

    Charlene read, watched, and listened to anything she could to prepare for her birth. Knowing all the negative messages surrounding the birth experience for Black women, she wanted to make sure she was educated for her birth. As she started learning how hormones and the body worked together and the cadence of physiological birth, the layers of fear she was holding onto started to peel back, solidifying her decision to have an unmedicated birth. Other things that supported her during this time included hiring a doula and guarding herself against any negative stories or news about childbirth to stay in a positive mindset.

    Charlene described her birth as being "uneventful," so two days before the birth of her daughter, attending her routine appointment, she was thrown off that her blood pressure was elevated. It remained elevated throughout the visit, prompting her care provider to have her stay in labor and delivery for a while so they could monitor her. Considering the additional symptoms, Charlene was having - headache and seeing "sparkles" combined with a blood pressure that would not drop. The conversation shifted to signs of preeclampsia and her needing to be induced that day.

    The initial shock of such a significant shift in her birthing plans caused for pause for her. Utilizing the "BRAIN" tool (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, Nothing) she had learned in her childbirth education class, Charlene was able to walk through the process of next steps feeling fully informed and focused on trusting her intuition. As she moved through her induction, the rest of her birth plan became just as important; she made sure to use hydrotherapy and movement. She was trusting her body, and as she exclaimed: "blocking out the noise" from her care providers about how to listen to her body. So when her daughter made it earthside, she was still happy that she could have her birth her way.

    • 42 min

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