DCP EP. 89 Black Doulas Matter: Tia Dowling & Stephanie Henriques

Transcribed by: Sydney Henriques-Payne

Completion date: November 10, 2021

DCP EP 89: Black Doulas Matter

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:00:03] This episode of Dear Culture is brought to you by Ford. Introducing Ford’s line-up of electrified vehicles featuring the fully electric 2021 Mustang Mach-E and the F-150 Lightning Truck, available spring 2022. The escape SUV plug in hybrid and the Maverick Truck available fall 2021. Ford’s options include hybrid standard, all electric and plug in hybrids. Other available features include plug in electric power outlets, a sync-three system, Ford Copilot 360 Assist and advanced technology to keep you connected. Ford also offers you the largest public charging network in North America with  simple and easy access to the Blue Oval Charging Network, the largest public charging network in North America offered by automotive manufacturers. Tap into the electric revolution by heading to Ford dot com for more information. Built Ford Proud. Now let’s get into today’s episode.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:01:12] Welcome to Dear Culture, the podcast that gives you news you can trust for the culture, I’m your co-host, Gerren Keith Gaynor, managing editor at theGrio

Natasha S. Alford [00:01:21]  I’m your guest co-host Natasha S. Alford, Vice President of Digital content and senior correspondent for theGrio Digital Network. And this week we’re asking, “Dear Culture, what it Do-ula.”

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:01:33] So first of all, obviously my co-host Shana is not here this week, but we are blessed to have a special guest co-host, my dear colleague and sister Natasha. Natasha, welcome back to Dear Culture. I think this is a really full circle moment because people might not know that Dear Culture was an idea that came from Natasha. She she might not take credit for it, but I’m going to put it out there on the record that their culture was something that Natasha came up with to bring to theGrio, and it has become the flagship podcast. Now we have more than one podcast, and we went through a series of changes throughout the show and before me and Shana became the permanent host. So it feels only right. That was Shonda and I here this week to have you, Natasha. And I’m really happy to see your beautiful face. So welcome.

Natasha S. Alford [00:02:21] Oh, thank you so much. I love this full circle moment. I’m so proud of y’all. Y’all are killing it. Shana — shout out to Shana, my girl Shana. She’s off doing great things in journalism this week, but this is… this is the beauty of, you know, just the… the community investing in storytelling. And these stories that we tell on this podcast are incredibly important. I know I will be listening to Dear culture episodes as I am driving upstate for the holidays. I don’t know about you, Gerren. If you’re traveling, I will be seeing family. And I’m excited. I’m… I’m going to be sampling lots of food.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:03:01] Yes, I can’t wait. I can’t wait for the holidays. Yeah. So, obviously on this show, we talk about what’s on our mind before we talk about the top of the show. And I’ll start first. You know what’s been on my mind? I shared last week that I went to the doctor because I was having, like some like audio issues in my ear and like a ringing sound, and it led to me finding out that I had a deviated septum. And so I’m continuing on my… my health journey of going to the doctor being a real adult because we all know adulting is hard. You know, I’m thirty two years old and I feel like I’m still figuring it out, but I went to the dentist for the first time. I’m not going to say publicly how long it’s been, but just know that it’s been a very long time and I was ashamed. I think the longer you go without going to any doctor, you just will just… you’ll just put it off because you don’t want to. You’re just scared of what might…the results might be. You are embarrassed. So going to a doctor and saying, “I haven’t been here in a long time.” So I went through that whole process and I went to the dentist and they were like, “You have a… you have pretty cute teeth,” you know, they didn’t they didn’t see anything initially wrong. And then they… They kind of like… did a deep dive into it and they found, you know, cavities. They found my issues with my gums. And so I had my first procedure, which was a deep cleaning. And it wasn’t, you know, thank God for the advancement of medicine. You know, they numb your mouth so you don’t— I can only imagine what it was like before they had medicine to like, numb your mouth. It would have been so painful, but I didn’t like it because like I’ve ever reminded me how fragile we are and at any given moment, you know, we are not in control of our bodies, you know? And it’s been a very sobering, eye opening experience of two more procedures after this first one. And it’s very expensive. Like, I’m probably paying like close to a thousand dollars out of pocket and I had health insurance, but insurance is covering like probably half of these procedures. And so it’s a reminder. One — thank God I have health insurance. You know, I think it’s important to also recognize that, that everyone doesn’t have health insurance, and we should really ensure that everyone has access to health care. And thank God, you know, I can afford to pay out of pocket. There are people who have health insurance and can’t pay out of pocket, so it’s been a very humbling experience. But just my message to everybody is to go to the doctor, no matter how long it’s been, especially my Black men, because we have a habit of powering through and thinking that we’re… We’re Superman or super people, superhuman beings and we’re not, you know, we are susceptible to, you know, with age comes ailments and your body changes. And while I think I’m a healthy person, you know, you just never know what’s going on inside your body, even if you feel like when you look in the mirror, everything is fine. But I’m glad that I have turned the corner. And I’m on the road to better health.

Natasha S. Alford [00:06:13] I’m so glad. It’s so funny we’re talking about having cute. You have a great smile, so see… You on the outside doesn’t mean you don’t have to go get checked, though, exactly what’s going on on the inside. You know, I. Well, what’s been on my mind is kind of related in that I always go into the holidays talking about, OK, you know, what’s the fitness plan? How can I be like, really thoughtful about enjoying my favorite holiday treats while staying healthy. This year I’m just not worried about any of that. I’m giving myself permission to enjoy as much food as I want, to sample all the food that I want. I’m actually going to be cooking more dishes this year. Now, as a… As a mama, you know, I feel that I can’t just sit around and eat. I’m going to try to contribute something. This is me trying to “adult,” Gerren. I’m trying. I’m trying very hard. So anyways, I’m very excited to cook this year and Will will be trying out a few different things with the holidays in my family comes Coquito season because, you know, we we’re we’re we’re African-American and we’re Puerto Rican. So we… we do everything, we do soul food, we do the COQUITO, we do empanadas, rice and beans. So yeah, I’m excited to pick a few of those dishes to bring to the table and to be carefree. It’s going to be awesome.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:07:43] Awesome. You’re creating your first family traditions. So I am so happy and I can’t wait to hear how it all goes.

Natasha S. Alford [00:07:50] Exactly. You, you got it. That’s what it is. It’s now creating my own traditions, and so I’m excited to… to do that with my family. So most people may not notice, but the most popular birth month is August. Shout out to all the Leos in the Virgos out there. That means that this time of year is when most people are actually conceiving Black birth workers or doulas are birthing a new movement in communities of color. And so this week we’ll be discussing how we can support families as they continue to grow, including the growing trends of Black women opting out of Western birthing practices. This includes the rise of Black doulas providing high quality care and ultimately achieving racial equity for Black mothers, birthing people and children. Today, we’ll be joined by Stephanie Henriques and Tia Dowling, who are birth workers and childbirth educators whose work aims to improve outcomes for mothers, birthing people and babies, especially in the Black community. We’ll talk to them more about the importance of perinatal care and various non-medical supports that can positively impact parents and babies. Let’s get into it.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:09:09] So, Natasha, I really I really I’m really happy we’re having this conversation because this is a really important topic and as I’m getting older, so many of my friends, including you, are starting families of their own. And you know, here at theGrio, especially, we talk about the importance of… the importance of standing up for Black Lives. And I think it’s important to punctuate that, it also includes starting with a lot for young, you know, young young children and advocating for Black Life starts early… Before the birthing process, really when you think about it. And you know, I have friends who have had difficulty through the process of having a baby and bringing a baby to this world. You know, one of my close friends, she… she had a very interesting journey. She also had like health complications added to being pregnant. And so she had to make so many decisions, kind of like on the fly because every turn throughout her pregnancy, things were changing and she had a lot of questions. And there’s so much information that you likely don’t know when it’s when this your first, your first child, especially. And I know that it can’t be easy. Like I know for me, we were talking about adulting at the top of the show, and there’s no bigger adulting moment than becoming a parent and preparing to, like, start a family, whatever that might look like, but especially through the birthing process. And Natasha, I know that you have firsthand experience because you are a new mom. Shout out to my beautiful nephew, Julian.

Natasha S. Alford [00:10:58] Hey JuJu!

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:10:58] Hey JuJu! And I do not want to ask you — Natasha, I want to ask you, you know, because you have experience the process of birthing. Could you describe what your experience was? I know– whatever you can share publicly. But how did you decide to start your process of birthing and did you have a doula?

Natasha S. Alford [00:11:30] Great question. So you were there for some of it as a friend, which is so cool because it really is, you know, there’s so many different parts of it, right? My birthing experience was a bit of a rollercoaster. The beginning was very exciting, just like when you’re going up the roller coaster, right? And I actually had a really great Black woman doctor who was a part of that early stage of the process. And then at a certain point, you know, you reach a certain number of weeks in the pregnancy– I had to transition. I had to go more into a high risk practice who, you know, a place that could handle someone like me who has Lupus and all these other health factors. And so that’s when things became a little bit trickier. Right. I was dealing with just, you know, a bigger system and you have lots of questions and you want to be positive, you want to be excited. But also you read all of these headlines about how risky it is to be a Black woman giving birth. And so I think sometimes people underestimate how that feels to be constantly bombarded with news about the things you have to worry about at a time when maybe you want to be excited and joyous. So the journey was challenging for different reasons. My son was growing at a smaller rate at a certain point in the pregnancy, and so he had to be monitored a lot more regularly. I had to start taking these things that were called… like stress tests or non stress tests. They were really stressful because I wasn’t passing them. And so I was not allowed to leave the hospital until I passed these tests because it could be indicating that there was something going on with the baby. And so there was one time I was held in the hospital for days and they were telling me that, Hey, you may end up having to give birth here. And I didn’t even have a car seat at home. But can you imagine being told, “OK, you might actually not be going home and you might be giving birth and you have nothing ready.” So that… that was a stress point for me. But, you know, there were also many joyous moments, right? You know, seeing the sonogram and seeing his heartbeat and hearing it for the first time. Every week, just sort of the development process. It was just so fascinating. It was so it felt so sacred and magical. And, you know, this was a very interesting time to… To be somebody who was pregnant, because so many of the appointments you have to go to by yourself for safety reasons and new precautions that were in hospitals. But once we got to the end, that was the big final push, so to speak. And I’m so grateful that I brought in  a Doula. I had been going back and forth about it. I didn’t know if I wanted another person in the room with myself and my partner. It just felt like such a sacred kind of space. And I’m like, “What does that do when you bring another person in?” Right? Like, how does that change the vibes? But I felt that because it was a high risk pregnancy and there was a chance that, you know, I may have to get a C-section or it may just be a little bit more complicated than having another person in the room might be worth looking into. So funny enough, I just texted. I texted one of my home girls. Shout out to Lauren Grant from the Grant Access. Lauren Grove now, and it was the same week. I’m pretty sure it was like the same week I was giving birth and I’m Like, “Hey sis, do you know any doulas?” And, you know, waited up until the last minute. But sure enough, I found an amazing doula who talked with me and said, “You know, I know you’re on the fence, but you’re… You’re… You’re not going to regret this. You are going to want me to be there.” And so I’m so glad that I went with that in the experience of having her there helps me at every moment that felt uncertain. The moments when, you know, maybe the pain felt like it was too much to bear. She knew exactly what to do. She had a little bag of tricks, you know, from aromatherapy to like, just different sort of massage techniques that she tried and she knew when to bring my fiance’ in at the right moments, right? To let us have time together, but also went to step in– woman to woman, in our case– and tell me what I needed to hear so highly. Highly recommend having a doula if you’re on the fence. And I think it sort of leads to some larger questions about, like what family planning conversations actually happen. Because again, you know, the… the conversation of “Should we have a doula?” Was something that came pretty late. And it’s just one of many questions that are part of like the entire sort of family planning umbrella of topics you would be talking about. So Gerren, I’m going to actually flip this question to you. Like, what are some of the things that you’re hearing from people as they talk about family planning, you know, in your different circles?

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:16:57] Well, to be truthful, I don’t have a ton of friends in my circle who are talking about family planning. And so I feel like,… incredibly new to this conversation. It wasn’t until you know you, you became pregnant, another close friend of mine who, you know, became pregnant, and then it started to really impact me in a different way. And I was like “wow!” Like, this is like, it’s so much to think about that I never gave thought to before. And so it’s been a humbling experience seeing my close friends just to start to create their families of their own. You know, obviously I’m a gay man, and so a lot of my circles are like gay men, right? And so family planning for us is different. When we talk about planning for families is like adoption or, you know, are we going to do in vitro? Can I… can I afford it? And I think affordability is a big part of the conversation and family planning for any family, whether it’s a LGBTQ plus family or a traditional family. And, you know, I cannot imagine the… the amount of information overload, right? It’s like once you… once you find out that you’re expecting, you don’t really have that much time. There’s just so much information. I know, Natasha, you’ve been really good with this. I saw you reading books and really educating yourself. And I think that, yeah, it’s it takes a village and it takes, you know, doing that, that.. That work. And I know that I can imagine not every birthing person has the time or resources to.. To get that information, but where you can get that information, I would say, you know, do the best you can. Ask, people in your family or ask, people in your circle who have already started families, how their experience is. And so that’s the only advice I could possibly give as a man who who just does it, who is really new to this conversation and doesn’t have a ton of experience.

Natasha S. Alford [00:19:00] Oh, don’t worry, we’re all trying to figure it out. Actually, I wrote a little bit more about the journey in this article for for vogue.com because that is the thing, like sometimes you think you know how you will handle a situation and then when you’re actually in the situation, you realize there’s just too much information to process, right? And so many emotions are connected to it all. The more reason why having a doula is great, because this person is a little bit more removed. They’ve had, you know, other experiences and of seeing a birth take place. And so they can give you that extra perspective that maybe you may not get from a partner or a family member who all may love you, but they all, you know, kind of have their own opinions and experiences.

Gerren Keith Gaynor 00:19:46] Exactly. Absolutely! — I’m so excited to introduce today’s guests to give us much more information on childbirth and the age-old practice of birth work that is making a major resurgence in particular in Black communities. Tia Dowling is a certified birth and postpartum doula and certified lactation consultant who has worked in the special services space for over 20 years. She found her passion and being a birth worker, supporting people through preconception pregnancy, birth and postpartum, and she’s also a proud mom of a six year old son.

Natasha S. Alford [00:20:19] We are also joined by Stephanie Henriques, a licensed social worker and certified birth Doula focused on safety and thriving. Stephanie works across the Health and Human Services continuum in service of families, including parent support, equitable child welfare practices and clinical models for mental and physical wellness. In addition to being a certified doula, lactation consultant and childbirth educator, Stephanie is a birth justice advocate who trains doulas in the importance of the intersection of reproductive justice and racial equity. Tia and Stephanie, welcome to Dear culture.

Tia Dowling [00:21:00] It’s so good to be here. Thank you for having us.

Natasha S. Alford [00:21:03] So, Stephanie… Tia…, thank you so much for joining us here on Dear culture. I’m very fascinated by this conversation because obviously I’m a man, and so a lot of this, I’m very clueless to and for our listeners who are not, you know, educated on what the work of birthwork is on and what that really means. Could you explain to our listeners what is birthwork and could you describe the difference between a birth worker and a doula?

Tia Dowling [00:21:31] So thank you so much for asking that question. I think historically Doula is a word that comes from the Greek that means servant. And so that is someone that is the servant to women. And so historically, especially as people of color, women have gathered together around families that were birthing additional members into their family. And so even though right now it’s the up and coming thing, as people of color, we’ve always surrounded and supported one another through birth. And so absolutely, I think that it’s a resurgence that’s happening, but it is in our bloodline to support one another through this really wonderful and transitional process in life. So….

Natasha S. Alford [00:22:23] And I would love to talk even more about the the origins, right? Because, you know, sometimes we talk about things as if they are trends, and the reality is that there’s a much deeper history there. And we know, particularly in the African-American community, we have had to come together when traditional medicine was not welcoming to us, right, and had to take care of each other. So, so maybe we can dig into the origins of doulas and birth work and what that has meant for our community?

Tia Dowling [00:22:57] Sure. So when I think about doulas, we think about a community of people coming to support one another in birth. And so traditionally, as people of color, even when we were not allowed into hospitals, we had granny midwives that would be there to support our births and to make sure that we were safe giving birth. And we would have family members around us and doulas around us to support us during this process and to be with those postpartum and to make sure that we were fed that we were taken care of. And even though now I think, of course, it’s really trendy and everybody has doulas and you see people… or celebrities that have doulas. Doulas have been around forever and just been there to support families. And I think that the benefits of doulas support are being able to have someone to depend on, have someone to connect with during this process, which is an emotional aspect of birth, is equally as important as the physiological portion of the birth. And so when we think about doula support, it is in our ancestry to provide support for families that are birthing.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:24:18] I also learned that there is more than one type of doula… there’s a birth doula, there’s a postpartum doula or a full spectrum doula, Stephanie or Tia. Could you explain a bit about the differences? The different types of is that there are

Stephanie Henriques [00:24:35] certainly thanks, Gerren. So a full spectrum doula kind of is like that big umbrella that covers everything from birth to postpartum. Right? And then you have like your specialty doulas where things kind of break off into different specialties, right? So you have a birth doula and that’s someone who’s really well-versed and specializes in birth and getting families prepared to welcome their new family member. Right? Then you have a postpartum doula that specializes in the aftercare, that physiological piece that Tia talked about that happens after the birth. And then once you’ve welcomed the healing process that the woman’s body will… Will go through as… as they go through that fourth trimester, which is the last three months after… after the baby is born. There are fertility doulas. There are doulas that specialize in helping queer families come to the realization of having family. So you know there is a doula for whatever kind of need you may… you may have.

Natasha S. Alford [00:25:38] It’s so funny because I think about all these Hollywood movies where you know, they have the mom there and her partner is there and she’s yelling and screaming. That’s like sort of the image that they give you… what birth looks like. And so the question is like, who really should have a doula, right? You know, if you have someone who is going to be there, maybe you’re involved or your husband or your partner, do you need a third person in the room? I know I definitely was like, Oh, I don’t know how that’s going to go. Like, what’s the vibe going to be? And then when I actually did it, it ended up being the best decision I ever made. So, so,… how does someone make that decision about whether they want another person in the room during this really, really special time?

Stephanie Henriques [00:26:23] I’ll start, and then maybe you can back me up on this one. So I had a doula at my birth, and it was by far the best decision that I had ever made. I was a doula before I had a child. And so my… my connection to birth work is much different. I’ve come to this work before having… having a [00:26:43]baby, and I recognize the importance of having that additional support. I always say, particularly to my potential clients, like having a doula…you have a person that’s in the room that doesn’t have the same emotional connection to the birth of this child, the way a parent would. Right. So you’re welcoming a new person. There’s a new life that’s coming. You don’t have that medical connection the way doctors have to the birth. And it’s a person that’s that has a kind of clear mind that knows the space and has the ability to provide evidence based information to kind of, you know, assuage any fears or things that come up during the birth, so — to answer your question — like who needs a doula — I’m going to flat out say everyone needs a doula. [45.8s] I don’t think it’s one of those things where it’s like, you know, this person needs one more or not. I mean, there are folks who could benefit, certainly from having a doula.

Tia Dowling [00:27:40] Yeah, I just wanted to just, you know, just add on to Stephanie. She put that so succinctly. And when she’s talking about those specific populations of people we’re talking about, people of color, our BIPOC individuals, that, you know, have better outcomes. When they have doulas, they have, you know, less things that happen at they’re birth, less interventions and they are… are way better off birthing with the support of the doula. And I think to Stephanie’s point about a person that’s in the room, that doesn’t necessarily… It’s not necessarily emotional about the birth because you as an individual are having a very emotional process that is happening to you. But your doula is calm, cool and collective about what is about to happen. And so we are able to lend a very clear eye in terms of how we show up and how we support families that are birthing. And to Stephanie’s point. I think that everyone needs a doula. Are there some populations that will benefit for… for them more than others? Absolutely. And those are BIPOC, BIPOC individuals.

Natasha S. Alford [00:28:53] Yeah, I have to say that other person in the room felt like another advocate, right? Another pair of eyes. You’re going through it and you feel like maybe there’s something you might be missing and you’re in pain at times. And so this… this other person I felt, had my back, you know, and as as a Black woman, that is essential when you know you’re going into a system that you know can be… can be challenging for us.

Tia Dowling [00:29:21] I wanted to just add that I had to doula and that’s what led me to this work. And my doula was like, So no nonsense that I felt so empowered to ask questions. And at the end of my birth, they were really sick and tired of me because I was just like, “Yeah, I’m just going to this. You know, the worst they can say is, No. And you know, and it’s my birth anyway.” So I feel very empowered by the process. And that helped me to become a doula.

Natasha S. Alford [00:29:52] And you know, obviously, I can imagine finding a good doula that that fits your family and your needs is something that is incredibly important. And maybe, Stephanie, you can. You can answer this question first. But what are some good doula interview questions? What is something that Black people should be seeking out in their doula? Are there adults with particular specialties that they should be looking for?

Stephanie Henriques [00:30:18] So I think there’s definitely a myriad of questions that you want to ask, right? And these questions could go for anyone you want to know. What might be important to you is you might want to know, you know, how many births have they supported and what type of different locations –Because birth happens in many different places, there are home births, their births and birthing centers. There are births in hospitals. So depending upon the type of birth that you want to have, you want to know, you know, if your if the person who’s supporting you has supported in any of those kinds of locations. You also want to know, you know, what kinds of things in terms of like interventions and things that they bring to the birth– because each doula has a different set of tricks in their bag. There are some doula that come to the birth and they’re like, “All I need are my two hands.” And then there are some birth, some tools that will, you know, if you want crystals, if you want music, if you want aromatherapy, if you want, you know, acupuncture and things of that nature. So each doula can come with a number of different specialties. In terms of questions that BIPOC or Black people should be asking are, you know, particularly what location you’re birthing in? You want to know, you know, will your will your birth worker feel comfortable, you know, being able to advocate with you alongside you, right and in service of you. You want to know, you know, what is their experience with, you know, particular providers. As birthworkers that… that do this full time and make the rounds around certain practices — birth workers have lots of information about different practices, different birthing locations, etc.

Natasha S. Alford [00:32:02] To follow up real quickly. You mentioned birthing centers. I never heard of a birthing center. So could you describe the difference between a birthing center and a hospital? Is there a benefit to one or the other?

Tia Dowling [00:32:14] So, yes, the a birthing center is a space where people birth outside of their homes. Where there is monitoring of the birth and of the person that’s birthing, right? But there is not any extra added medications in terms of pain management. There is not any… there’s not any room for like… a surgical birth, if that presented itself. And so usually people that birth and birthing centers are people that are low risk. When I say low risk, they may not have any prevailing issues or maybe any comorbidities, maybe like high blood pressure or gestational diabetes. And those people could potentially birth at a birth center with very little interventions at a birth. And at a birthing center, one of the benefits of birthing at a birthing center is that the option of being able to birth in water is available as well.

Natasha S. Alford [00:33:17] This connects perfectly to something that I’ve been thinking about in this interview, and it’s just the changes that have happened to the way that we approach birthing because of Western medicine. Right? So there was actually a lot of intervention in my birth because I have lupus and, you know, I had all these other risk factors, so I had to go to a hospital. But what are some of the other changes that Western medicine has made to the way that we approach birth? And like, how does having a doula kind of bring us back to the transitional or traditional practices that existed prior to colonization across different cultures and communities?

Stephanie Henriques [00:34:03] So I think one of the things is that we have definitely seen a medicalization of birth that has occurred. We… we often see a lot of monitoring during birth and that also varies during, you know, varies by location and practice and things of that nature. You spoke to the fact of, you know, having to visit the hospital frequently, right? And so having lots of testing and testing… Testing done. Birth has become more medicalized. I would think at the beginning of the eighteen hundreds is where we started to see home births, a transition from home births to wards going into hospital births. And when we saw that transition, that birth became a medical act, right? Which means it’s there is something that has to be looked at, something that has to be treated. Prior to that, we had great midwives, as as Tia mentioned, that delivered at home and it was completely safe and there was nothing…There was nothing that interfered with that. And so the presence of having a doula now does bring back that kind of indigenous practice of where we have the support. Birthing people historically have have birthed in community like that is something that has always been folks that have been around. You know, if you’re familiar with the red tents, like there have always been people that have been to come around communities and ancient or in African processes, you see that there are naming ceremonies are places where children are brought to the community so that folks know that a new life has joined.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:35:38] And you know, one thing our listeners may be considering is whether or not having a doula is scientifically proven. Does having a doula statistically impact birth? Is this just a resource that can support us? Can it support in minimizing anxieties or is there science behind it all?

Tia Dowling [00:35:57] Yeah. So, so doulas absolutely are confirmed to lower the incidences of cesarean rates, also to lower interventions as well. And so there is studies that have proven that the added.. [00:36:17]The added support of the doula definitely can change the outcome of your birth in your pregnancy. [6.1s]

Natasha S. Alford [00:36:24] That’s great. I am thinking now about anybody who’s listening to this show and says, “OK, so where do I find the doula, right?” Erica Badu can’t be everybody’s doula. Shout out to  Summer Walker. I Was like, “Wow, she has Erica Badu as her do not like that is a dream situation.” So, so for… for our people across the globe who are listening, what’s a sure and like reliable way to find somebody who is quality and trained and going to help enhance the birth experience?

Stephanie Henriques [00:37:03] Sure. So there are a number of different ways that you can find it all. There are local community doula organizations and community doula programs that provide low cost and sometimes free or pro bono doula services to the community. And then, as you mentioned, there are, you know, star doulas —Doulas to the stars, right where there are plenty of folks that you can just type in your your local space, you know your local Google and say, “Hey, we’re looking for, I’m looking for a local doula and there will be a number of listings that will pop up. I think it’s really important, like there is something that you mentioned, you said certified. I want to mention, I want to… I want to highlight that certification, particularly for Black doulas, this has been a bit of gatekeeping because we recognize that this is work that we have done for many, many years, right? And while certification can be important for some people, right and certification can can highlight for some of us the idea that there have been things that you know, a test or not that has been passed. We want to recognize that certification does not always necessarily mean that a person can or cannot perform, perform the job right? And so when you are interviewing to your question, Gerren, you asked about how do I know you want to ask those questions? Because certification might be important to you. Number of births might be important to you. So when you are searching for that doula and looking out, asking that question about certification is important. But there are. doula groups…you can find there are doula groups on Facebook. You know, there are websites that you can Google for that have listings of doulas that doulas can register and pretty much has all of their information with regards to, you know, number of births cost, location served certifications, if that’s important to you.

Natasha S. Alford [00:39:07] Yes, don’t ever feel that it’s too late. I definitely waited until the week of giving birth to find a do it

Tia Dowling [00:39:15] and not too late, even Natasha. I always say you too late to get a do as long as you’re not crowning. If you’re crowning, then you have to get a postpartum doula, OK?

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:39:27] And for people like… Go ahead, Tasha.

Natasha S. Alford [00:39:30] Oh, sorry, I was going to say, even if you are packing your bag right, you if you text the right group chat, you might be able to find somebody in time.

Natasha S. Alford [00:39:41] Good advice. Good advice. And speaking of advice for people like me who want to who want to support and provide better care for birthing people, for people like me who are not parents, how can we support? I know that I’m always I’m always big on policy. I know that there’s a Momnibus bill that has been introduced in Congress to address the Black maternal health issue. What are some ways that we can help support birthing people through this process?

Stephanie Henriques [00:40:08] So I think one of the things Gerren is like just becoming educated and informed, right? Like, you are doing the work right now by being a part of this conversation and absorbing this information and being able and sharing it with them. I don’t keep it to yourself. Share it with someone. I think birthing people and birthing communities and families need the support of others and to be able to share that information widely across.

Natasha S. Alford [00:40:34] Well, we have one last question for you all. Some of our listeners like you to hear they might be inspired to become a doula after their own birth experience. I know a dear friend– shout out to Natalia Davis –She was working in the entertainment industry and she left for a bit to become a doula right?  And it was changing women’s lives and changing birthing people’s lives through this, this hands-on experience. So what… What should people consider if they want to enter into this work? What advice do you have for them about how they can explore it?

Tia Dowling [00:41:13] I would definitely say that there are different types of trainings available. There are different types of options that are available in different organizations that might align with your expectation. And Stephanie said this earlier. Like, if you are a crystal person, there is a training for you. If you are like you want to be on the front lines and, you know, address certain things that are around BIPOC individuals. There are also trainings for you. So kind of figuring out what the way in which you want to help. It’s a good way to start and then finding training that aligns with your expectations and your thoughts and how you want to contribute to the community. And fortunately, now a lot of the trainings are virtual, and so some of them you can do virtually. There are some more that are back to being in-person. And so that’s also really helpful so that people are able to explore a lot of different options if they are deciding that they want to go to get into birthwork, but also like maybe even reaching out to your local doula and just having a conversation around like what doulas do and you know what it looks like. And just being able to have a conversation with someone might even be a real, helpful way to start.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:42:34] Absolutely. Well, Tia, Stephanie, thank you so much for joining us here on Dear culture. I know I learned a ton. So I’m really hopeful that our listeners will take this information and use it wisely. If you want to learn more about Stephanie and you can follow her on Instagram at HenryQs that’s h-e-n-r-y-q-s. And to learn more about Tia to visit her website at www.metoodoula.com That’s m-e-t-o-o-d-o-u-l-a dot com, or you can follow her at me too doula across social media platforms. As always, for more commentary on the culture. Visit theGrio’s website at w w w dot theGrio dotcom.

Natasha S. Alford [00:43:24] We want to remind our listeners to support your local Black businesses and donate to your local organizations and religious institutions. The business that we will highlight this week is Alaiyo Waist Beats. Alaiyo Waist Beads is a Black owned woman owned company centered around the ancient West African practice of Waist Beads. Creator Jasai Madden describes the practice of wearing waste beads as manifesting power. She describes this mindfulness centered practice as helping wearers to navigate towards getting their needs met. Alaiyo provides private, in-studio and video consultations. They run Tied Tribes, an education and support space for women focused on health and wellness. To learn more about Alaiyo Waist beats, visit their web site at W WW Dot Alaiyo dot Net. That’s a-l-a-i-y-o dot  net or follow them on Instagram at Alaiyo Waist Beats. theGrio has published a list of 50 plus Black businesses to support during the coronavirus pandemic. If you’d like your business to be featured. Email us at Info at the Grio dot com. That’s g-r- i-o dot com.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:44:39] Thank you for listening to Dear Culture. If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review and subscribe to the show wherever you listen to your podcast and share it with everyone you know.

Natasha S. Alford [00:44:47] Please email all questions, suggestions and compliments to podcasts at the Grio dot com. The Dear Culture podcast is brought to you by theGrio and co-produced by Taji Senior, Sydney Henriques-Payne and Abdul Quddas.