|You know I love to talk about pleasure, but did you know that I am also a passionate birth activist?
I want to share with you about my personal journey – as it’s been an important year for me to learn, listen, and engage in important – yet, uncomfortable conversations with other doula trainers, childbirth educators, and birth practitioners. It’s been a continual journey of self-awareness and awakening as I continue to work hard personally and professionally to be actively anti-racist and as an advocate and ally for birth justice and birth equity.
This week, DONA provided me and other DONA Trainers another opportunity as part of DONA’s dedication to anti-racism and birth justice with a class presented by CommonHealth Action on anti-racism. I am truly DONA Proud of our DONA Anti-racism statement and call to action and DONA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work.
I’ve also recently watched Epic Health Solutions talk about structural racism and the doula’s role. More than 30 years ago I was the director of the very first community doula program in New Jersey, The Neighborhood Doula Project. When our program ended, I was so disappointed that no one was listening to the essential role of community doulas, especially for BIPOC people being served by BIPOC doulas. Even with good outcomes, no one was ready to dedicate what it would take so that we could continue the program. I kept dreaming and speaking up that one day doulas would be an essential part of care. Now more than 25 years later, NJ is for the first time is including doulas in Medicaid reimbursement as a part of Nurture NJ Action Plan. I am so humbled and my heart is crying that it took so long, but I am celebrating we are finally here especially during this Black History Month.
I am so honored to be learning from so many to examine bias, confront history, to question power, privilege and oppression, eliminate inequities and advance equity in all ways, especially birth and to center and support the many Black leaders past and present, who are leading us to do better and create a just and equitable world.
…As I write this, I can’t help but be reminded of Ibu Robin Lim, my dear friend and co-teacher of Eat Pray Doula. Years ago, Robin lost her sister to a preventable maternal death. Her death, like so many others, is why the role of a doula is so crucial in reducing racial disparities. This year, our Eat Pray Doula training is going virtual – and Ibu Robin, along with me, Mala Landt, DONA Founders, Penny Simkin and Phyllis Klaus, are so honored to be guided through a Birth Justice and Equity Session by Advanced Doula and Wise Woman, Sokhna Heathyre Mabin. We will also be joined by Alejandra Lozano, a traditional Mexican Midwife sharing the wisdom of the rebozo in providing comfort in birth. Together, we can continue to fight for justice, because Peace on Earth Begins at Birth.