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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30 | Breaking Generational Cycles - Brandy Wells MSW, LISW

Brandy shared the pregnancies and births of her three daughters. As you listen, you can connect with the intentionality of the growth she has achieved through her parenthood journey. Her first birth, she wasn't prepared, and it manifested not only how she took care of herself during the pregnancy but also in her birth. Knowing that wasn't what she wanted, with each new experience, she added preparation elements, to ensure she could walk away from her experiences empowered.

It was beautiful to hear how using conscious parenting or as Brandy describes it "teaching lessons while parenting," she is breaking generational traumas and cycles. Her children can see the growth of their parents and echo it in their development and relationships.

A key component of Brandy's growth is how she has engaged her elders — speaking to them about their births and childhood. Using the gift of storytelling to dig deeper into her healing while also creating stronger bonds. She left us with a plethora of tools on navigating how to hold space for ourselves and our families.

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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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