Categories
Uncategorized

Black Lives Matter-A Message from the Utah Doula Association

Guest Blogger: Sara Hutchinson, CD DONA

The last few months have been filled with devastating news. 2020 in Utah will be remembered with the COVID-19 pandemic, earthquakes, and protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd by police officers. Our country and earth is in a place of unrest.

At the core of the unrest is systemic racism and racial inequality. Those of us who work in the birth world are acutely aware of the disparities for Black mothers and babies. In the New York Times Magazine article, “Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies are in a Life and Death Crisis” author Linda Villarosa states that “Black women are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as their white counterparts, according to the C.D.C.” and “black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data.”

The racial inequalities during COVID are even worse. The latest data show that African Americans have died from the disease at almost three times the rate of white people. New figures compiled by Color of Coronavirus provide further evidence that across the country African Americans have died at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites, 22.9 for Latinos and 22.7 for Asian Americans.

Understandably, people of color are angry. The members of UDA are angry. People across the globe are angry. Black lives matter.

Families and businesses have been affected. The Utah Doula Association (UDA) is no exception. Following in the footsteps of many other individuals and businesses, the weekend of June 5th, the UDA posted a message of solidarity on their social media. The UDA acknowledged the indignities and dangers our Black sisters and brothers have lived with for generations, and committed to rebuild injustices and be ally champions.

The June 5th statement was rejected by a member of our community. She felt it was insincere, and that the UDA has a lot of work to do to remedy years of members feeling undervalued or unheard.

She, and some other members of our community who identify as doulas of color, asked the UDA Board for a meeting. On June 10th, the doulas and the board connected over Zoom. The doulas of color shared their perspectives, including the painful truth that they did not always feel safe, heard, or valued through the UDA. The board of the UDA listened intently.

The work of uncovering and addressing the UDA unconscious bias has now begun. Without this conversation, the white doulas on the board or in the UDA at large did not fully understand what it was like for the doulas of color. Even though the conversation was difficult for all who participated, it was a key to learning and growing.

As the best-selling, anti-racist writer, Ibram X. Kendi recently said  in an interview with Brené Brown (listen here):

“The heartbeat of anti-racism is confession, is admission, is acknowledgment, is the willingness to be vulnerable, is the willingness to identify the times in which we were being racist, is to be willing to diagnose ourselves and our country, and our ideas and our policies. And the reason why that’s the heartbeat is, like with anything else, the first step is acknowledging the problem. You know, we can’t even begin the process of changing ourselves, of acting in an anti-racist fashion if we’re not even willing to admit the times in which we’re being racist.”

Love, kindness, and compassion are an innate aspect of being a doula. It was extremely difficult to hear that some doulas of color have felt marginalized by UDA on that June 10th Zoom call. However, we know they spoke their truth. Everyone committed to listen and learn.

There is meaning and importance in diversity, equity, and inclusivity. The members of the UDA

Board have realized that they have a blind spot. Improvement will be made to strengthen the organization, but it will take work.

The UDA is committed to do the work.

A week later, the board met again and agreed on the following, which was posted on social media:

The UDA has been made aware that some members of our organization and our birthing

community do not feel safe or heard by the Utah Doula Association. We value ALL

doulas and seek to uplift the voices of ALL underrepresented individuals especially

Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and those who identify as LGBTQIA+. As a group of

compassionate advocates for birthing and postpartum individuals and families, we

commit to an intentional effort to remove barriers and create spaces of inclusivity. We

recognize that this work is ongoing. Over the next 12 months, the UDA will:

 

  1. Provide anti-racism education to individuals and the organization to understand both interpersonal and systemic racism, provide specific doula training to navigate racism in the labor room, and provide tools for full-spectrum doula work;
  2. Develop an Access and Inclusion committee, which we hope will include diverse and professional voices in equity and equality; 
  1. Reevaluate UDA processes and bylaws to promote equity;
  1. Foster more community and collaboration within the organization through social and professional gatherings.

Through these actions, the UDA hopes to create a space of inclusion and trust for those who have previously felt unseen within our doula community. If you have feedback for the UDA, please take a moment and fill out this form. Your identity will remain anonymous, if you choose. We appreciate you and value your opinion; thank you for speaking up.

Though the road ahead is uncertain, there is no doubt that through the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement diversity, equity, and inclusion will be on the forefront of every decision made in the future. We are grateful to all the doulas in the Utah doula community for their perspective.

In the words of Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

The UDA is on the road to better.

Categories
Parents postpartum Postpartum Doulas

When Love Makes Three

 

When Love Makes Three

by Michelle Holmes

As I leaned toward my husband to get a hug my enormous belly made it a completely difficult reach. I joked to my husband, “I’m sorry, I know I promised I wouldn’t let this baby come between us.” That baby, who turned out to be a 10+ pounder, was definitely coming between us physically. Not going to lie, it was an obstacle for sure. But emotionally I think we have done a pretty good job of making sure our babies didn’t actually come between us.

Marital issues are probably one of the biggest concerns after a new baby arrives, whether it’s the first or fifth. Mom has to recover physically and hormonally. She has to process a birth experience that may or may not have gone well. Dad is also tired. He is stressed financially about providing for his family and he wants to help his wife adjust, but might get a little stir-crazy being home more than normal so he heads back to work. This makes mom feel more lonely and abandoned, and then dad feels like he can’t do anything right and is on-edge. In times like this it can be really hard to connect to each other intimately and you might start to feel that the baby is very much coming between you.

Over the years, and through my own five births, coupled with my experiences as a birth and postpartum doula, I feel like I have learned a few things about keeping your marriage intact while still taking care of the rest of the family. Evaluate how you are doing in each of these areas and make adjustments where needed.

  1.      Get support. I cannot express this enough. Get a postpartum doula, a housekeeper, a cooking service. Let your sister move in for a month (or make your mother-in-law move out). Let your neighbors come help. Whatever and whoever it takes, please get the support you need! Remember, when you let someone help you it makes them feel good too so there is no reason to feel guilt or shame in calling up your village! When you are supported and have the help you need to recover you can also give attention to your relationship with your spouse/partner.
  2.      Get rest. Everything is overwhelming and stressful when you aren’t getting enough sleep. I get so short tempered and snappy and of course everyone around me will mimic my mood. If you can get a total of 8-10 hours a day, even if it’s broken up into multiple 2 hour chunks, you will feel more like bonding with your husband.
  3.      Do a little something everyday to make each other smile whether it’s an extra long hello/goodbye kiss, a sweet note in a packed lunch, a check-in text to say, “I miss you,” or even just a snuggle on the couch. Small, daily efforts add up to bigger, deeper connections.
  4.      Have a scheduled date night once a week. Ideally, it would be the same night each week to make it easier to remember, but if you need to adjust for scheduling conflicts then do it. I love taking turns with the planning so you always know that you can count on something happening and you won’t interrupt the other person’s plans or assume the other person is doing it and then nothing happens. So write down on your calendar whose turn it is each week and stick to it just like you would stick to a doctor’s appointment. It doesn’t have to be going out, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or take a lot of time. Even something as simple as writing a cheesy love poem, finding a new “our song,” looking through old pictures together, having a dessert in front of the fireplace, exchanging foot rubs, or asking each other questions. This is your time. No diaper talk, no other kids, no complaining, just connect.
  5.      Communicate. You have to let each other know what is bothering you, what your needs are, what would be helpful, what would fill your cup. How many times have you resented your partner for not doing or getting something while you assumed they were reading your mind and knew what you wanted? Just be bold, tell them flat out!
  6.      Be intimate! But, but, but….the doctor says not until 6 weeks postpartum! It seems like there are two very distinct extremes hormonally after birth. You’re either going to be on the, “never, ever touch me again” side or the “I want you right here, right now, I don’t care that it hasn’t been 6 weeks” side. A few important things to remember: your placenta left a giant internal wound that you can’t see so you forget it’s there. Your cervix does not close as quickly as it dilated. There is a risk of infection and injury while that heals. You are also often extremely fertile after birth. Give your body time to heal and take precautions. That said, intimacy isn’t just sex. There are plenty of intimate things you can do to and for each other without going all the way. I shouldn’t have to tell you this; obviously you got pregnant so you know how stuff works.
  7.      LAUGH. This is probably the most important thing I could tell a postpartum family. You.Must.Laugh!!! Laughing is as valuable to your relationship as an orgasm is. Watch a comedy together, pull an unexpected prank, have a funny meme contest, whatever it takes to get the tears of laughter flowing. There are sooo many hilarious funny marriage talks on YouTube. Do something to bring on the giggles. Laughing is the best way to forget you’re tired, sad, ornery, lonely, moody, and feeling gross all around.

I hope these tips help you keep things going strong as you add a baby to your family. This is a really important time for you as parents, and as a couple, and making your relationship a priority will help you not only survive but become closer than ever!

Bio: Michelle is a certified advanced birth, postpartum, and bereavement doula based in Heber. She is also a childbirth educator as well as a homeschooling mother of five. She is an active member of her community and volunteers in several organizations including serving on the Utah Doula Association board.

Check out her website at Sage Doula 

 

https://utahdoulas.org/business-directory/8567/michelle-holmes/