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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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.

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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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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.

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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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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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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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01 | Birthing Confidence - Danielle Jackson

Welcome to Birth Stories in Color! A podcast creating a community for people of color to share and learn from birth stories of all types. In this first episode, you meet your hosts Laurel Gourrier and Danielle Jackson, both serving their community as birth and postpartum doulas. Danielle will also be sharing her two hospital births. While her first birth was overshadowed by her health history, she still finds confidence in its success. That self-confidence and knowledge helped her power through her second birth.

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