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15 Oct 2018

Behind Our First DTI Training For Doulas Of Color: Meet M. Carmen Lane And Malika Muhammad

By The DTI team

We acknowledge birth as a reproductive justice issue, affected by barriers based on race, class, religion, traditions and sexual orientation. And we believe in the transformative power and impact that well-educated, culturally competent, fierce doulas can have on families around the world.

So, we are incredibly proud (and excited!) to join forces with ATNSC: Center for Healing and Creative Leadership to host our first-ever People of Color Doula Training this weekend in Cleveland, Ohio from Oct. 18 to Oct. 21. The four-day doula training session has been built to provide people of color, including queer, trans and two-spirit people, an opportunity to deepen learning and make lasting connections in an inclusive space with other birth-workers (you can learn more about the training—and register to attend—here). Led by Malika Hook Muhammad, DTI Educator and Administrative Director, and M. Carmen Lane, MSOD, Founder and Director of ATNSC and a DTI doula, the training will begin with online components of basic lactation education, anatomy and physiology of birth before kicking off the in-person curriculum.

Our team chatted with Muhammad and Lane about what they hope to bring to the birth world through this training, as well as their personal practices as doulas. Read their answers and learn more about these instructors below.

Malika Hook Muhammad, DTI Educator and Administrative Director

Malika Hook Muhammad

Malika Hook Muhammad

Q: Why did you become a birth worker? Was there a single moment you remember, or a passion for the work?
Muhammad:
 A good friend of mine invited me to her birth after. I had no expectations but it was an awesome and amazing experience. After her birth, she said, “You should be a doula! You’d be really good at this.” So, I started looking into it and fell into the rabbit hole after that. I’m a social worker (and was working in social work at the time) and felt less in contact as my career advanced. I really resonated with a doula org here in Philly and was so impacted in my training and got the “the reproductive justice bug.”

Q: What is one of the most valuable things you’ve learned as a doula?
Muhammad: 
The most important thing I believe is to know that your client owns their medical autonomy over their own body. We are hired to do the work, but at the end of the day, the client is the boss of what’s happening here. The best births I have done are when people own their birth.

Q:What kind of space do you hope to foster and what kind of conversations do you hope to have at the POC Training?
Muhammad: The first thing that comes to mind is to discuss owning your power and authority as a person of color and doula in a space that’s traditionally and systemically racist. It’s an uphill battle where often times, POC have to make a difficult choice in interactions with the doctors or hospital systems — whoever the system participants might be. POC have to ask “Should I choose to use my voice, or do i just not have the energy?” One of the conversations I want have is about owning your voice as a professional in a systemically racist space.

Q: In what ways (big or small) can birth workers increase support for one another and people increase awareness about the birth world?
Muhammad: Community—either finding a community that already exists or creating one that is lacking. Meeting with likeminded people with the same values or ethics as a birth worker is important. Doulas supporting doulas, doulas supporting birth workers regardless of income, and etc.

Q: What is the future of the birth world? What factors will play into how birth workers are received and how they will continue care?
Muhammad: I’d like to see a doula for every birthing person, and to have that as a norm with it not being something that only certain people with certain economic means can have. I’d love for the future to include that as how we offer healthcare. I’d also like to see more conversations about how birth workers can provide more equation to providers and why it’s beneficial. I think there’s multiple layers as to how health care is provided—the worst is the anecdotal, experimental method of how we’re providing healthcare. I would love to be able to rock the boat and force people out of this sort of thinking into more evidence-based practice.

M. Carmen Lane, MSOD, Founder and Director of ATNSC, DTI Doula

M. Carmen Lane

M. Carmen Lane

Q: Why did you become a birth worker? Was there a single moment you remember, or a passion for the work?
Lane: 
I became a birth worker after the death of my grandfather. After the experience of being his end-of-life doula, I decided to finally get trained as a birth and postpartum doula. I had kept this particular dream on a shelf for almost 20 years.

Q: What is one of the most valuable things you’ve learned as a doula?
Lane:
One of the most valuable things that I have learned as a doula is the client chooses you—you call in the clients/experiences that you need to have as a doula. When I say the “client,” I mean the unborn human being coming into the world.

Q:What kind of space do you hope to foster and what kind of conversations do you hope to have at the POC Training?
Lane: My intent for this training is that we can create a space where people get to choose to walk into their purpose in a clear and confident manner. Given the ecosystem the participants will be learning in, a community with one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the nation (15 deaths per 1,000 births for African-Americans), my hope is for more doulas to become interested in becoming leaders in a growing movement in their own communities.

Q: In what ways (big or small) can birth workers increase support for one another and people increase awareness about the birth world?
Lane: I think we need to start having conversations about things that matter—it’s all birth and the conditions of our world are the conditions our client’s are entering into. We need to check in with each other and ask, wait patiently for the authentic answer, “How are you?” Then move into action from there.

Q: What is the future of the birth world? What factors will play into how birth workers are received and how they will continue care?
Lane: I don’t know what the future of the birth world is. I do know its been important to continue to ask myself how I want to participate and contribute to the changing landscape.

Learn more about this training:

You can learn more about this training’s certification requirements, pricing and more here. You can learn more about our scholarships for doulas of color here.

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