25 | The Melanated Birth - Chinelle Rojas

Chinelle Rojas, a birth photographer/videographer, explained that her job is not about the crotch shot. Instead, the focus is on documenting the little moments that her clients may not remember after the birth of their child.

She knew from the birth of her three children that she wanted something to look back at. To be able to reflect on her birth experiences and also be able to share with her children. Chinelle loved photography and birth. Taking that into consideration, she wanted to be able to offer other families the opportunity to commemorate their birth experiences. She shot her first birth in 2011, and from there the rest is history.

Chinelle created Melanated Birth to bring awareness to women of color of the options available to them through the imagery of birth. Using it not only as a medium for families to document their birth stories but also as a way for future birth photographers of color and allies to learn about the importance of documenting birth in this way.

Read More

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.

Read More

23 | From the ROOTT - Jessica Roach, MPH

In honor of Black Maternal Health Week we had the opportunity to interview CEO and co-founder Jessica Roach, MPH about the mission and work of Restoring Our Own Through Transformation (ROOTT). ROOTT is a Black women-led reproductive justice organization dedicated to collectively restoring our well-being through self-determination, collaboration, and resources to meet the needs of women and families within communities. ROOTT was created by a collective who view the issues surrounding maternal and infant health as a consequence of structural and institutional racism.

This interview we delve deep into what taking back our reproductive choice and care can indeed look like — the work it takes to sit in our communities truth and power.

We must always go back to the root! - Jessica Roach, MPH

We are grateful for sponsors of this episode and other ROOTT activities this week. We would also like to acknowledge the Black Mamas Matter Alliance and all the Kindred Partners and collaborators for dedication to Black Mamas and families.

Read More

22 | Abide - Cessilye R. Smith

What sets Abide apart from other facilities in their area is their focus of care centered in culture humility and addressing systematic racism. All those who volunteer, work or have any contact with families through Abide will find that culture humility/competence and implicit bias is embedded in their training — ensuring that care is easily accessible, holistic, evidence-based and free from judgment. Beyond these facets, co-founders Cessilye and Bethany are the foundation of upholding these standards, requiring each other and their community to have uncomfortable conversations to make the change.

A gem that Cessilye left us to sit with, think on, and process is that "As long as whiteness is the standard, black women will continue to die." Listening to this episode, you can feel the power in the mission of Abide and know that the work they are doing is shifting that narrative for their community!

Read More

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!

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More