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28 Jul 2016

Reflections from a Birth Worker of Color: Doula Training Washington, D.C.

By The DTI team

doula training washington, d.c.

DTI Doula Training, Washington, D.C.

July 7th-10th

Day 1

Today I hold space, joining with other advocates for birth, infant health, and social justice. Today we come to honor the time it takes to come into this world. We explore the avenues of support in the form of knowledge, empowerment, unbiased information based on the best available evidence, and awareness of physical, emotional and spiritual components.

But today I hold space for the lives never entering and lives that have gone. My heart has been heavy these past few days as a dear friend mourns her baby born sleeping. I hold space. I send love. I hold my healing hands high to send the vibrations of my heavy heart to the universe.

Another black man is killed. An epidemic. From our colored babies, children to mothers, fathers and the elders. From aggressive medicine, lack of sufficient care to police brutality and violence, I breathe today for the lives of many as I honor this path I walk. Today I serve a group of men and women as their fire is ignited and the ripple effect continues.

Today I pray God keeps many close through this state of emergency in our country. We birth and raise colored babies knowing what they may face in their lifetime.

I am a black mother. I am a sister.

I am a doula.

Day 2

Check this. Aggressive medicine from in the womb. Low to no education, support and access to resources prenatally and through postpartum. Minimal to no breastfeeding for many. Poor healthcare access. Crown fried chicken and the liquor stores on every block. The broken black/Latino home. Violence against our brown babies from conception through maturation. It’s a systematic plotting against our people and I can’t stay silent. Every time I go into a shelter or a project building to work with a family for a positive birth outcome I change the data ever so slightly, the data that none of my independent practice clients fall into. I link them to resources for the first year if needed for baby and parent. Accessing and helping monitor postpartum depression, anxiety and psychosis… the different variations of what is faced by the birthing person, even more so when they have no support or resources. There are hospitals I walk into every month where every client has a Cesarean birth because that hospital does not value the brown body and their right to have choices and make decisions.

Day 3

Last night I recorded a podcast on brown lives, brown babies and returning to the art and beauty of natural birth. Although I respect and support any birth and any decisions made in their labor and delivery, our right to birth as we want is being taken from us. Someone once told me I’m open to an epidural because I have nothing to prove. Is that really it? How do we know our true strength and abilities without facing the adversaries to overcome? No point of growth is easy and keeps you in your box of comfort. Yes, I know interventions are sometimes needed and honor that, but I also know when our choices are being taken away, along with our babies, our mothers, our fathers and our elders due to violence and aggression. No, I have nothing to prove but that brown bodies are able, more than capable, educated and empowered. I advocate. Our voices will be heard.

I went to bed feeling the need to pray about my purpose, this path I continue to walk. I dreamed of a friend and knew immediately this morning something was wrong. I contacted her and there was another death… this time, closer to home. This week my spirit is uneasy. Too many deaths near and far have occurred to my brown sisters and brothers. I feel spirits leave this world while I witness spirits as they enter.

I am doula.

I hold space.

We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper.

Day 4

Today we ignite our intentions. Deaf doulas. LGBTQ doulas. Doulas of color. A group that is diverse and inclusive and ready to support their communities, closing the gap and bridging the gap. The energy is alive. With brown on my back and healing in my heart I will make a difference. These doulas I have met and come to mentor were here for a reason. When asked where I wanted to train, Washington, D.C. flowed off my tongue. No coincidence in the heat of this country’s racist and political climate I am on Capitol Hill training doulas who are now on fire to serve. Doula Trainings International has made it possible for doulas to be accessible to all, for all. Through scholarships, trainings and continued education we come as doulas and as birth and social justice advocates, changing statistics one birth at a time.

My heart is full. See you at the next doula training, Washington, D.C.

Simone Toomer is a DTI doula educator and owner of Wise Womban Doula in Brooklyn, NY.

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