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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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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24 | Her Holistic Path - Olivyah Bowens

Olivyah Bowens two pregnancies and births were very different. With her first child, her circumstances didn't allow for her to prepare or truly connect to her pregnancy. Understanding the impact that it had on her birth, as she found out she was pregnant with her second child Olivyah became a sponge, soaking up all the information she could find. She expressed that the gathering of information was transformative for her, even leading her to become a doula.

It was wonderful to explore with Olivyah some aspects of parenthood preparation that sometimes go without focus. The mission behind her support of families and what she shares is the role of the mind-body connection. We currently live in a space where medical culture isn't valuing the power this connection possesses — realizing that it is essential that we discuss the role food and nutrition play in our pregnancy, birth and postpartum. That the most crucial preparation we do for birth starts in the mind, accepting and releasing the fear that we incapable of sitting in our strength.

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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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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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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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