Category Archives: Uncategorized

Take Your Daughter to [Birth] Day

I’ll never forget my experiences as a young girl going with my mother and older sisters to work for Take Your Daughter to Work Day.  My mother worked in banking, and I was amazed to see how many responsibilities she had.  My time spent with her at work, while definitely detracting me from wanting to work in the corporate world, helped me see my mother in an entirely new light.  She was no longer simply the woman who made sweets on weekends and enjoyed her episodes of “Murder She Wrote,” and British dramas on PBS.  I learned to see my mother as someone other people depended heavily upon.

Although I don’t (yet) have children, I’ve brought my nieces and a mentee to work  with me so they could witness the life of a teacher from the other side of their report cards.  I’ve never thought, though, what it would be like to bring a young girl with me to a birth or to sit in on a childbirth education class.

We may not all see ourselves as activists, or “radical doulas,” but the work we do is definitely political.  We help women find and use their voices.  We help them act from a place of empowerment instead of repression.  We hold space for them so they feel safe during some of the most precious moments of their lives.  We provide information and education so women are making the most informed decisions they can during pregnancy, childbirth and ultimately in the rearing of their children.  Yes, we fight the good fight for women to birth as they wish.

The moment I realized that I needed to be a birth worker, I briefly lamented not having been exposed to the beauty of birth as a girl.  Surely, I thought, I would have become a midwife or OB/GYN.  Bringing our daughters to births may not seduce them into doing the work that we do, but just imagine how difficult it will be for anyone to say, “No,” to a girl who has seen birth up close and personal, and watched her mother make it happen.

Have you brought your daughter to birth?  Did you attend a birth at a young age? What impressions where you left with?


Children’s Books About Birth

As birth workers, we are often faced with helping our clients’ children prepare for birth just as much as we help prepare the parents and other adult relatives.  In celebration of National Children’s Book Day, I thought I’d share some resources for helping small children adjust to becoming older siblings.




National Goddess of Fertility Day

In celebration of National Goddess of Fertility Day, I thought it would be fitting to honor two Yoruba Orisha (goddess, for lack of a better translation), Yemoja and Oshun.

In the West when we think of goddesses, Aphrodite and Venus are among the first that come to mind.  However, in the Yoruba pantheon, Oshun and Yemoja are two of the most revered female Orisha that are worthy of much praise.  Women seek their help in matters of love, women’s health, justice, protection and, naturally, fertility.

Many women adorn waist beads that have been prepared with herbs or other elements that enhance fertility in the colors of Yemoja (blues and greens) and Oshun (yellow and white).  Young girls may receive such beads during adolescence to mark their journeys into womanhood.  Waist beads, traditionally worn underneath clothing invisible to the public, are often used to entice a lover to romance and intimacy.

In the coming installations, I will be posting stories about how Oshun and Yemoja have helped women with fertility in accordance to traditional Yoruba mythology.

Happy birthing!

The Importance of Childbirth Education

On my radio show, “The Perinatal Period” I had the pleasure of interviewing two childbirth educators in February about the importance of choosing quality preparation classes before the big day.

Think you can be totally prepared after watching The Business of Being Born, and reading some great books?  Don’t downplay the importance of live human interaction.  Tune in for some food for thought!

“The Perinatal Period: The Importance of Childbirth Education”

Listen to internet radio with YorubaDoula on Blog Talk Radio

Value your Doula

A few weeks ago I received an inquiry from a woman having a home birth in search of a doula. She mentioned that her midwife told her that she could find a free doula, and wanted to know, “Could that be [me].”

I was taken aback. I didn’t know now to respond. Actually, I knew how I wanted to respond, but my initial response would have been brash; I wanted to avoid that. I tweeted my frustrations with the question. I thought long and hard about what I would say to this mom who was obviously making a beautiful decision to have her baby at home with a midwife and doula.

I didn’t know what to say to this mom to convey that needing a low-cost doula is perfectly ok, but that expecting freebies is not. How could I get her to see that doulas are valuable, and must be valued, without hurting her feelings and discouraging her from searching for a doula that she could afford? Could I do any of that without my upset with her midwife’s suggestion becoming obvious? I took some time, wrote, deleted and wrote some more. What I came up with is below.

“Congrats on your upcoming birth! I’m not sure how familiar you are with what a doula does, so I hope you don’t mind my taking a bit to share a few things with you and offer advice in your quest to find a doula. 

The average doula, once hired, structures her time so she can be available to you when you need her. That may mean that she’s not going out of town to visit dear ones, she may have to call off of work (and lose money) to attend your birth, or she may even miss her child’s birthday should you go into labor on the same day. 
She has to get to you – however she can – for prenatal visits, your labor and postpartum visit(s). She takes time preparing, and possibly copying materials to share with you to help you make the most informed decisions that you can during pregnancy, labor and as you raise your child. She devotes an indeterminable amount of hours to support you and your family in a time of need to make your birth a success.   Doulas are trained professionals, and are constantly continuing their education in order to provide the best support possible. 

In answer to your question, I’m not the free doula you seek. I am a low-cost doula, and do volunteer births from time to time for families in need who understand the value of the free service they are receiving. The going rate for a doula in our city is $1200, and you can find both cheaper and more expensive. [Your midwife] was absolutely right, you can find one for free, but I do hope that you see the value in what you’re getting. You can also find low cost or free childbirth education, but it’s valuable as well. 

In reaching out to a doula, you may want to let her know that you are searching for a doula and ask her to share her availability, services and fee information with you. It can be off putting to know right up front that you are looking for freebies, and doulas who may be willing to do a volunteer birth might be turned off by your approach. I can understand if times are hard, but I hope you consider compensating your doula. If you could get $100, $200 or even $300 together over the next two-three months to help your doula serve you it would help your doula out more than you can imagine – even if you hire her for free.  Some moms have asked family and friends to give money toward a doula fee for the baby shower, or are able to barter services for compensation. 

I wish you well on your journey, and hope you find the doula for you. If you realize that you can afford a small fee ($300 or less), I would be happy to put you in contact with amazing doulas that would love to be a part of your birth team.”

I never heard back from this mom, so I have no idea how she took my reply. I think, though, that I need to make it very clear that I’m not anti-volunteer work. I live in a city where there are organizations set up to provide low-income women with free doulas; I was annoyed that her midwife suggested that she reach out to private doulas to ask for free help rather than let her know about these organizations. On the other hand, I know that women who can absolutely afford a doula would rather not pay the going rate if they don’t have to. I was annoyed with what I perceived as arrogance on this mom’s behalf.

I’ve worked for free in the past, and will work for free in the future. However, the woman that hires me pro-bono will understand the value of the service she’s getting.

Be Kind to Your Vagina: tampon awareness

I came across this video the other day, and thought it was something every woman should see.  Often, young girls are told not to use tampons because they, “Shouldn’t be putting things in there,” or that it’s considered by some as taking a young woman out of her virgin state.  The older I become, the more I wonder why no one seems to mention the level of toxins that are in tampons and highlighting that as a reason to abstain from tampon usage.  Please watch this video, share with your sistren, and then research menstrual alternatives.


Five Fingers, Five Toes & a Tongue Tie

This generation of parents have some different concerns when preparing for their children’s births than generations of yesteryear.  Among the list of decisions to be made are formula or breast milk, organic or not, pampers or diapers and one of the biggest debates, to circumcise or not.  We’ve all grown up hearing the expression, “tongue tied,” to describe someone who can’t quite get their words out right.  Tongue tie, or Ankyloglossia, however, is a serious condition.

Tongue tie is a common condition where the tongue is actually connected to the mouth’s floor, making it difficult to suck, chew and speak.  Many people grow up and are able to cope with their tie, while others are not.  The decision to be made by parents is whether or not their baby’s tongue tie will be cut.  Many parents count fingers and toes as soon as their baby is born, but don’t forget to check the tongue as well.  Read up on tongue tie to help you make an informed decision should your child be born with a tie.