20 | Futuristic Midwife - Barbara Verneus

Becoming pregnant with her daughter was a surprise for Barbara. Throughout her pregnancy, birth and postpartum, the community was a vital part of uplifting and supporting her. She discusses that during her pregnancy she was depressed, yet her community called her home and surrounded her in love. At her birth, her church family gave her shoulders to lean on and continued that support as she navigated the postpartum transition. That experience pushed her to keep being a doula and into becoming a midwife.

As we learned from speaking with her, there are only 2% of black midwives in the birth world. Taking that information and combining it with the fact that black women have higher rates of maternal mortality than their white counterparts it highlights why this statistic must change! One way we as a community can help with that change is providing our student midwives with sustainable access to resources. Barbara hopes that by 2020 she will be a midwife and we are here for it!

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19 | The Power Within - Alyestal Thomas

There are many emotions that pregnancy and birth can elicit from us. For Alyestal an emotion that covered her pregnancy was fear, fear of dying during childbirth. Her preparation, husband and midwife supported her in her birth. Specifically, in the moments when her birth plan shifted, and she needed an episiotomy and vacuum assistance. Because she had prepared in trusting her body and being flexible, Alyestal explains that she found her power through her daughter’s birth and continues as she navigates postpartum.

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18 | Tatia - Shared by Maddy Oden

This is a story about loss - In memory of Tatia Oden French & Baby Zorah

We had the honor of having Tatia's mother Maddy Oden to share Tatia's story with us. Maddy and her family knew that they didn't want others to go through the same experience. From their loss, they developed the Tatia Oden French Memorial Foundation in March 2003 to continue Tatia's memory and provide education to others.

This experience highlights the importance of informed consent, the medicalization of birth specifically with the induction drug Cytotec and infant/maternal mortality. We hope that as you listen, you don't sit in fear from their story, but instead take in the information, share it with others and help extend the mission of the foundation.

We can't control birth, and we can't predict outcomes, but we can gather information to ensure decisions are lead by our informed voices!

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17 | Standing in the Truth of Birth - Myra Barnes

Last month we were invited by the Birthmark Doula Collective to bring our podcast on the road and attend their first Black Birth Matters conference. It indeed was a day of empowerment and healing. During the conference, we set up a mini recording studio and invited attendees to come and share their birth stories. In doing so we met Myra Barnes, and she allowed us to hold space for her experience.

Myra's story was an accurate reflection of the conference. It highlighted the power in healing ourselves. Especially for women of color. When we can tap into the work (whatever that may look like) in making ourselves better, we can heal while adding in stopping cycles of trauma. To do that, we have to be ok with being vulnerable and transparent with our friends, our families and ourselves. Myra said it best, "I'm hoping that we can do a better job of supporting each other to be better givers of life. Better leaders and advocates, especially for ourselves in a world where we have been conditioned to be silent."

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16 | Healing - Erica Maddox

Erica was 19 when she had her daughter and while she wasn't necessarily sure how to prep she knew that no matter what she had to be in good space and mindset. Once her daughter made her arrival, Erica found herself struggling to navigate postpartum. A sentiment that many birthing parents can connect with. Breastfeeding was difficult, she was working through feelings of self-doubt and not being a good enough mother. While she was able to put on a face for everyone around her, internally, she knew something was wrong.

Erica is hoping that by being open about her experience and sharing her story, she's helping to normalize conversations of postpartum struggles.

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15 | Age Ain't Nothing But A Number - Derrin Moore

If you are a birthing person at the age of 35 or older, you have probably heard the term advanced maternal age. In this episode, we meet Derrin Moore, 42-year-old mama, who didn't let this term or categorization determine how she created her family.

Being a gymnastic and circus instructor coach, she felt fit and kept working until she couldn't. She hired a doula and sought out additional support. Derrin's birth did not go exactly as she planned and that's ok, that's birth. From her story, we realize how impactful society's view on our expectations of our bodies can be. To all the cesarean birth parents, you, your body and your birth journeys are powerful!

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14 | Led by Intuition - Kimberly Fayton

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! 

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13 | Dropping Expectations - Lara Alsoudani Weeks

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!

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12 | Being Present - Simone Toomer

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. 

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11 | Birth & The Art of Mindfulness - Laurel Gourrier

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.  

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10 | Not so by the Book Mommy - Isabella Otarola

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. 

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09 | The Educated Birth - Cheyenne Varner

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.

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08 | Primal Birth: Birth as Physiology - Amy Lee

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. 

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07 | Birthing Magic - Chae Pounds

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. 

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06 | Mothering the Mother - Birthing Beautiful Communities

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.

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05 | When You Can't Doula - Yolanda Owens

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!

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04 | Surviving the NICU - Nicole Braddy

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. 

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03 | Lessons Learned - Dasha Tate

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. 

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02 | Taking Charge - Caitlin Kelley

Today’s episode features Caitlin Kelley, 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.

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