31 | Navigating Motherhood Through The Lens of Postpartum Depression - Briara Lowery

After having her son, she expressed that physically she healed well, yet struggled healing mentally. When considering what postpartum might look like, she didn't think postpartum depression was something that would affect her. Looking at all the risk factors, in her mind, she didn't fit the mold. Her experience with postpartum depression required her to process her birth, examine how she was taking care of herself, and reflect on her expectations of what parenthood should look like. In doing that work, she acquired the tools to navigate that part of her postpartum journey.

Briara found power in telling her story and wanted to spread awareness while doing so. She founded Melanin Mommies, a Philadelphia based nonprofit and safe space for pregnant, new and seasoned mothers alike. Lowery noticed that the mothers in her community did not have as much access to resources as other mothers in more affluent areas, and so she decided to make a change. It is a space for mothers of color to connect, find healing, and discuss navigating the realities of motherhood.

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28 | My Existence is Valid - Stephanie Mitchell CNM, MSN, DNP

For many of our guests, sharing their story on this platform is the first time they have processed out their experience. Sharing the parts of their story that they may have kept tucked away or didn't even realize had an impact on them. As we listen to Dr. Stephanie Mitchell CNM, MSN, DNP, reflect on her inaugural birth, we see how her birth set the tone for who she would be as a care provider.

Her own experiences of parenthood and working within the healthcare system highlighted the opportunity for change when we respect the connections made through storytelling. Dr. Mitchell supports her patients with the intent of guiding them to resources and information. As she put it, "not letting my office day define the information that I give." When we think about the care and our relationship with our care provider, we envision someone like Dr. Mitchell. Someone willing to go outside of the box. Finding the balance of mixing their own lived experience, training, and our lived experience within our care. That at the end of our time together, we know we were heard and seen!

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27 | Second Opinion - Natalya Alexander

When Natalya and her husband began the process of expanding their family, they imagined it would be the same story of many of their friends. After a year of trying to conceive, they went to a doctor hoping to get answers as to why it was taking so long. After numerous tests and scans, Natalya and her husband were left with the diagnosis of "unexplained infertility."

That diagnosis led them down a path of navigating a fertility clinic and the process of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) LINK, a form of fertility treatment. Unfortunately, this process was unsuccessful and after many attempts and feeling discouraged from her doctor. Natalya knew she had to advocate for herself. She and her husband found a new fertility clinic and got a second opinion about how to move forward. The doctor recommended trying the process of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), and they were able to conceive after the first round of treatments.

It is essential that we discuss and celebrate the variations of creating our families. By sharing her story, Natalya is hoping it highlights the journey of IVF and establishes a support resource for others who may be going through the same thing.

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26 | I Am a Parent ~ HunterDae Little-Goodridge

HunterDae describes themselves as a black, queer, non-binary, fat proud parent. This is who they are, and these identities are important to their existence and interactions with the world around them.

When HunterDae became pregnant with their twins, it was a spiritual awakening. They realized they had received double the blessing and were now carrying three hearts. What their care provide saw was an individual that was checking off all the boxes for a high-risk pregnancy. This narrative continued into HunterDae's birth story.

As you listen to their story, you realize how imperative it is that when we are caring for individuals through their parenthood journeys that we acknowledge their lived experience. Care cannot be a one size fits all, and it has to come from a place of understanding the whole person.

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21 | Birth is Art - Lauren Turner

It was a great learning experience to listen as Lauren shared how her nursing journey with her daughter helped her to heal from past traumas and especially during her postpartum. In times when she was struggling she would reflect and sit in that space with her daughter using that time to anchor herself from what she was feeling. While we emphasize how nursing can be vital for our children it can also be just as pivotal for the birthing person(s).

Beyond nursing, another avenue that Lauren has used to process and heal is through her art. Inspired by the births of her close friends, she felt moved to get back to her art. Using it as a vessel of storytelling and reflection for them. Lauren has always loved art, but now she’s found a new love for her craft as she's painting black women in the way she has always wanted to paint them!

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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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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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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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