A Heart-to-Heart on Motherhood and Community with Latham Thomas

Latham Thomas is a doula, mentor and educator – and so much more. As the founder of Mama Glow, she draws on a full spectrum of holistic wellness knowledge, ancestral tools passed down via ancient tradition, and partnerships with public health advocates and organizations to provide comprehensive direct support for all women along the childbearing spectrum and their families, as well as a globally-recognized doula training program.

Her commitment to supporting marginalized and underserved communities and advocating for humane healthcare for all inspires us deeply, and we were delighted to speak with her as part of our Women’s History Month series.

 

We think this is one of the most powerful interviews we’ve ever run on our blog, and we encourage you to sit with Latham’s words, and be inspired – no matter what your calling might be.


On your website, you have a beautiful explanation of how “Mama Glow” isn’t just an organization, but a concept. Can you elaborate on that?


For us, the experience of pregnancy [is] of being embodied in a state of constant change and flux, being in relationship with your body in a way that doesn't happen that often, for a period of 40 weeks – or 10 moons – of change. 


And then, on the other side of that, having a lifetime of change with the human that you bring earthside is, to us, a sacred and holy event and experience.


The work that we do seeks to ground people in that experience, to remind them of their power, and, in some cases, be a conduit for reconnection to ancestral tools that guide us to a place where we can be in a state of surrender, really. And also a state of constant opening.


I think pregnancy is about being fully expressed. It's about expanding you and shaping you and opening you, and there are so many forces that work on us, to open us in these ways. 


And so while we witness this in the doula work that we do, and through various experiences that people have along the childbearing continuum, it's really important for us to acknowledge that it is abundant and it is beautiful. And even the aspects that are challenging are also a gift, and really powerful teachers. 


And we also know that many people in our current medical models don’t have access to this type of experience. And so that's what we're fighting for, to preserve this experience for everyone.


You're leading so much of the conversation around birth advocacy and motherhood – what it means to bring a child into the world and what it means to be supported. What drew you to this field in the first place? What inspired you to step onto this path?


I acknowledge it as a calling. I'm answering a call that's really deep. And it's something that has been visiting me for many years, that hovered for many years, while I acknowledged it by ignoring it. 


And, there was a time where I couldn't put it off any longer. And without getting into all the details, there were several serendipitous symbolic events that took place, that served on a platter what I was supposed to be doing, and I finally listened. 


I'm a Taurus, and we're very disobedient and we're very stubborn, right? So it takes a long time to embrace change. And I just took a long time to get there. And this is [after] two decades of work in women's health, but feeling that calling stirring inside of me for a very long time, and even having the rudiments of this work show up when I was a child.


Being called to service leadership is inconvenient. It shows up in your life in a way that is disruptive. [It] disrupts what you're already doing, and sends you in a direction to do something that's greater and bigger than you, and so that's what I've been positioned to do.


And so it isn't like a “passion”. It is an act of deep service. it isn't something that I can just turn away from and then go do other things that are fun. People's lives depend on how we show up. So I think that's the difference in how I see the work, and also the seriousness with which I show up for it. 


It was answering a call. I feel like I was anointed to do the work. I think that everybody has some sort of calling, some sort of special medicine on their hearts to be of service and to heal.


And so that is how I show up. And then the other way is through teaching. A huge part of our commitment, and mine specifically, is about making sure there's access to education that really centers our unique experience as birthing individuals, primarily as folks who've been marginalized. 


We have people who, for the first time in their lives, have seen themselves centered in [our] material, and have seen languaging and spaces created to support them in processing their own birth experiences. For me, it's been such an honor to be able to show up in that space and support people who are on the journey to be a mentor – I have thousands of doulas who I mentor, that come through Mama Glow. 


And it's been one foot in front of the other, right? Every single day you take steps on your journey. And I really allow God to order my steps. “How do I show up in devotion today?” That's how I approach my life in the work. 


What is the core role of a doula, and why are they so important?


So it's interesting, because [“doula”] is a really pretty word. And then, when you learn where the root of the word comes from, it comes from ancient Greek. And it actually means “handmaid”, or “one who serves”, or “female slave”. 


And when you hear that overlay, and how that hits for people who are descendants of folks who were in bondage, or if you’re in connection with a community on the margins, it doesn't feel right to be calling yourself that. 


I think that if folks feel that the word is evocative of something that doesn't feel good, then there's other words you can use. There's “birth attendant”, I use “birth keeper” a lot. And you can call yourself a “birth coach” – there's many different ways. 


But what we should understand, though, collectively, is that the role is ancient. And this is not new. It's not something for just rich people, or just people of a certain mindset or belief system around birth. It's for everyone, evolving out of rich traditions where we were in support, in community, around birth and other life events. 


The role of a doula is really to help someone cross the threshold from one plane of existence to another. We are there to serve as guides through the rites of passage. So, through birthing rites, or postpartum rites, or perimenopausal rites, we are there to support that – or rights of loss and bereavement, if someone has miscarriage or stillbirth. It is for menses – we have people who can support you as you come in through menarche. So it's along this entire continuum. 


So it's not a new thing, but because of how we constructed our society, this role has been pushed out to one that's become more like a career path, rather than someone who was just in your community, like a neighbor or auntie. 


And the doulas back in the day, we actually evolved from the role of the “gossips”, or God's siblings. The godsiblings would show up alongside the midwife, and the midwife would not just perform clinical support and care; [she] would also perform ritual, would pray, would smoke the room with incense or holy resin, would prepare a tonic, usually with some sort of alcohol to help move things.


[And] the godsiblings would come in and kick out the male of the house. Like if there was a father or somebody, they would leave. And then the children or whoever else is in the house would be attended to by the gossip, and they would prepare food, and prepare the birthing room, and draw the curtain to create a sense of darkness and safety.


And they would feed and hydrate the birthing person, and look after the kids, and tell stories and gossip and laugh and cackle, prepare the sheet for the birth, change the sheets after the birth, do all of that stuff. And then also attend in the early postpartum period, with rituals, foods, all types of things that now have gotten lost in Western culture, or are just reemerging as we celebrate confinement practices for the postpartum period. 


And so the role is that old, right? It's super ancient. And so it is for all of us to reclaim.


In the modern sense, the doula [provides] emotional support, physical support, education. If you have a partner, they're going to do partner support, and to ensure that you have advocacy tools to navigate your birth.


And it is quite different from having a midwife or doctor, because they're there to provide all clinical care, and also to deliver the baby. The doula is there to provide all emotional care. 


There's a pervasive misunderstanding of the role of doulas and midwives, which keeps us in a state where we don't have access to the resources we need to advance maternity care in this country. And so it is by design that there’s confusion – which drives policy, drives health education, drives where the financials are distributed amongst any of our health programming in the United States. 


So we need to get this right, and have clarity around what the role is. But it's not easy for people to figure out, because the information sometimes can be confusing. So yes, it is a non-clinical role. It is a service role, and it is available to you, and everybody should have access to the care provider of their choice to support them through the birthing process. 


And a doula is a version of that, who can support you in birth or post birth, and certainly something you should look into, regardless of what type of birth you're planning for. And certainly for every type of birth outcome that may arise.


As you’ve said, for people who are called to this kind of role, the first teacher is Spirit. Then there’s the world, and other humans. Can you tell us about some of your other teachers, who our readers can access directly – in the form of people, books, or other tools?


You know what's interesting? I was talking to a midwife friend the other day about this, and she was talking about how sometimes she's in spaces and people are like, “oh, where's the reference for that? Or is there a book, or?” And I think the important thing to surface is that a lot of the wisdomkeeping that we're able to conjure wasn't written down.


How people transmitted information was through song. It was through their bodies, it was in their bodies. Sometimes it was through food, certain rituals or prayers, but none of that stuff was written. 


So a lot of what gives people the satisfaction of being able to fact-check, a source for something like that isn't there – because you would have not survived if you made it clear that you could write and read. You could actually be killed, being able to read and write in that time, and people knew that. 


And so a lot of the information is not centering us in that way. It's extracting from contributions that we weren’t able to write down. 


A lot of these things that I know, I know, through storytelling, or I know through ancestry, or I know through other people who were in conversation and in storytelling and in song with other people who were living it and passing it on orally.


So that's one thing, there's a difference in how we story-keep culturally. Like everything that my grandmother could cook, she never wrote down, we had to learn by being in the kitchen. 


So it's a different lens on how information and wisdom is transferred. The more you can recall or remember in your body, the more you can recollect and bring into the space orally, and the better you can keep and preserve things that get extracted culturally. Because when we surface our information, people co-opt it. So that is also the other fear, that everything gets taken. 


And people who are marginalized, and people who are oppressed, and people who don't have the ability to put their story out there, or don't have the mechanisms to spread it – their stories don’t get told. 


And if people really knew the truth, by the way, the fear is that the stories that we have told ourselves are about to unravel. Right? The fear is that people who know the truth, that the young people who know the truth will feel something, not just feel bad, but they will feel something, they'll do something about that feeling. And that'll lead to actual change. And then there will be people who are like, “Oh, my gosh, we can't continue to let this happen!” And that would change things. 


But this is the culture we live in. It's one where our ancestors were criminalized for what they knew. And then had to essentially prove up through credentialing, and basically showing their papers. And so everything that we're trying to do is to make sure that people don't have to feel like they have to prove up anything. And that we really trust these internal resources that we have as our teachers, and that we think about ourselves, as we move through the world, as making our own history.


I feel like reading can make you feel good about what you're about to learn, but the birth work is like not about reading, it is about being present, it is about listening, it is about guiding, it is about being able to close your eyes and know if somebody is crying in the room. It is being able to, in darkness, help people cross this river, holding their hands to safe passage.


I look at Harriet Tubman as a guide. She was a freedom fighter, she was an herbalist, she was disabled, and she was still carrying people to safe passage, right? And that is what we are called to do, is walk in the spirit of that power of our ancestry, all of us. Not to just try to read your way there, or resource your way there, or syllabus your way there. 


And so that's the invitation, to allow yourself to feel what comes up as you navigate space, and connect with what's happening in your body as it relates to this work, like what stories you have that are untold about your own birthing, or your own birthing journey, or how you got here. 


Connect with that wisdom. What was in the traditions your mother practiced, or your foremothers? That's the work. Not reading what I read, but hooking into what is happening in you, and what's calling you to do this, and then finding your source material.


What inspires me, or makes me feel connected, is not your medicine. You have your own medicine. You have to find it within, you have to channel it, and you have to slow down to connect, to attune so that it surfaces. 


And then it’ll show up and then your teachers emerge, the teachings emerge, the lessons emerge, and in the format that makes sense for you. It'll come! But seek to connect to the source material inside of you first.


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Unknown Speaker  0:00  

hear your voice.


Unknown Speaker  0:02  

Hi. Nice to hear your voice too.


Unknown Speaker  0:04  

How have you been these last few years? It's been a minute.


Unknown Speaker  0:09  

I know I have blessed and blessed. Really? Things are good. It's getting to be spring here. How about you?


Unknown Speaker  0:17  

Yes, the sun is coming out and it changes everything. It really does. It really does. You know, before we dive into this, I just wanted to update you. We're doing this. We're featuring four different nonprofits that are kind of women focused female focused. For the month of March, and we had one extra spot open. And we're connecting, I think with Rocky, is that the name of your team member? Yeah, we're connecting with Rocky to see if we can get you all set up with our partners beam so that people can choose to donate to the Mama Glow Foundation.


Unknown Speaker  1:11  

Okay, yeah, she will have to, I guess, like send it to the board admin. I'm not involved in that. Yeah, would know how that would work. But they, they'll figure that


Unknown Speaker  1:24  

out? Okay. It's pretty easy integration from our end. Essentially, it's a we donate 1% of all sales. And our customers just get to choose what organization it goes to. So Dana's sending the info over let us and I'm sure rocky will let us know. If, but hopefully, it would be great to be able to highlight you and also feature your foundation, I think it'd be really, really beautiful.


Unknown Speaker  1:52  

Awesome, thank you for thinking of the foundation.


Unknown Speaker  1:56  

Yeah, absolutely. Should we dive in? We're so excited to chat with you.


Unknown Speaker  2:02  

Yeah, this is fantastic. We should dive in because I have the sheep free version of zoom, and it will boot us after 45 minutes. So with this, we only have a few questions. So this shouldn't take that long. But yeah, let's get started. Sounds good. Kate, you


Unknown Speaker  2:22  

want to kick us off, you want me to kick us off?


Unknown Speaker  2:24  

I can kick us off. So on your website, which is amazing. You have a beautiful explanation. And of course we'll send our readers their beautiful explanation that Mama Glow is not just an organization or a business but a concept. If I have that correct, do I?


Unknown Speaker  2:46  

Um, that is a content. Yeah, I'm looking at the website.


Unknown Speaker  2:50  

And and this is what my idea anyway, there's this beautiful description I'm eating time here. And on the about page and


Unknown Speaker  3:06  

the about page at Mama Glow and abundant radiant energy that comes from within?


Unknown Speaker  3:10  

Oh, yeah.


Unknown Speaker  3:13  

If I send something you connect with, particularly then we can move on. I just thought it was it was beautiful and fascinating. If you could elaborate on it. If not, that's fine.


Unknown Speaker  3:22  

Yeah, I mean, for us, the experience of, of pregnancy, of being embodied in a state of constant change and flux in your body. Being in relationship with your body in a way that doesn't happen that often and is for a period of like, you know, 40 weeks or 10 moons of change. And then on the other side of that having a lifetime of change with the human that you bring earthside is, is to us a sacred and holy event and experience. And, and so, the the work that we do seeks to ground people in that experience, to remind them of their power to to remind them and you know, in some cases, be a conduit for reconnection to ancestral tools that guide us to a place where we can be in a Vienna Vienna State of surrender really. And and also a state of, of constant like opening, you know, I think pregnancy is about being fully expressed. Its expansive, right. It's about expanding you and shaping you and opening you and and there's so many forces that work on us to to open up and move in These these ways. And so, you know, while we witness the, in the doula work that we do, and, you know, through these various experiences that people have along the childbearing continuum, it's really important to acknowledge, you know, for us to acknowledge that it's that it is abundant, and it is beautiful. And even, you know, the aspects that are challenging, you know, are also a gift and really like powerful teachers. And we also know that many people in our current medical models have the access to this type of experience. And so that's what we're fighting for, to preserve this experience for everyone.


Unknown Speaker  5:48  

So, so well put so, so beautiful, brilliant. Very, very moved by that. I, I would love to dive in a little bit to your background, because currently, you're kind of leading so much of the conversation around birth advocacy, and, and motherhood and what it means to be bringing a child into the world and what it means to be supported. And what is a doula even, you know, that word. It's so excited about that word, but they don't really know, sometimes what that what that means and what that entails. And I would love to know, What drew you to this field in the first place? How you ended up here, your inspiration, yeah, stepping into this path.


Unknown Speaker  6:43  

Yeah. So I really acknowledge it is a calling, you know, the work and I wouldn't say that I was, like, inspired or, like, a lot of people, it's like, well, I'm passionate about this, or it is not that for me, it is really, that I'm answering a call that's like really deep. And it's something that has been visiting me for many years, that hovered for many years, while I acknowledged it by ignoring it. And, and there was a time where I couldn't really put it off any longer. And without getting into all the details, there were several serendipitous symbolic events that took place that basically serviced on a platter what I was supposed to be doing, and I just finally listened. And I'm a Taurus, and we're very disobedient and we're very, we're very stubborn, right. So it takes a long time to embrace change. And, and so I just took a long time to get there. And this is like, you know, two decades of work in women's health, you know, and being, you know, two decades into this work, but, but like, feeling that calling, like stirring inside of me for a very long time, and even having the rudiments of this work show up when I was a child, you know, and so, I would say that the difference between, you know, being called to, to work or to being called to service leadership, is that it's inconvenient, it shows up in your life in a way that, you know, it's disruptive right disrupts what you're already doing, and sends you in a direction to do something that's greater and bigger than you and and so that's what I've been positioned to do. If you think about the nature of, of what this has a support is it I mean, like, people call you in the middle of the night, you know what I mean? And you get up and I think about when my son was really small, like waking up in the middle of the night as a single mother and wrapping him and snow suit and blankets and then hailing a taxi to go downtown because there was no Ubers and having to get cash from the ATM to pay the taxi, then taking my son up, you know, four flights of stairs in the dead of winter into his grandfather's house to you know, sleep there and then get up there and go to school from there preschool whatever it was baby school, you know, and then for for me to from there, take another taxi that I will have to hell to then get to Brooklyn to then service alongside people who were in active labor, right? Like just that type of commitment is what's asked of you. And, and so it isn't like a passion, it is a, it is an act of deep service, right, it isn't something that I can just like turn away from and then, like go do other things that are fun. It is something that is it, like people's lives depend on how we show up. So I think that's the difference in you know, how I see the work. And also the, the seriousness with which I show up for it right is like fully showing up for people. And so it was answering a call, I feel like I was, you know, it was just, I was anointed to do the work. And so I just answered it. And I think that everybody, you know, has, you know, some sort of calling some sort of, you know, special medicine on their hearts to be a service and to heal. And so that this is how I show up. And then the other way is through teaching. A huge part of our commitment and mind specifically, is about making sure there's access to


Unknown Speaker  11:19  

education that really centers, our unique experiences, birthing individuals, primarily as folks who've been marginalized. And so we have people who, for the first time in their lives have seen themselves centered in material and have, you know, seen languaging and, you know, spaces created to support them in processing their own birth experiences. And so for me, it's been really such an honor to to be able to show up in the space and support people who are on the journey to be a mentor, I have 1000s of doulas that I mentor, that come through my little glow. And it's it's been, you know, it's like a kind of one foot in front of the other, right, like you just kind of walk, you know, every single day you take steps closer towards, you know, as far as you know, say closer, but like, just, you take steps on your journey, right? And, and just, I really allow like spirit, you know, like God to just order my steps and just tell me like, how do I show up in devotion today? Like, how do I show up today. And that's really sort of how I approach my life in the work. And then, you know, I think that also, sort of all of this stuff touches how I parent and how I live. And so it's really like, I think, part of just like who I am, but, but now I would say like I'm moving more into the role of, of a teacher versus like, you know, showing up to births and stuff, I don't do as many I do, like, so many so, so fewer now, so that I can have a space to be able to support the students that we cultivate and make sure that they are able to have the opportunities that I had. So so that's really another piece the commitment, but it did start like with you know, it all started small. And I think that's so important for everybody to remember. Like, you know, when I look at Oak trees, I'm from Oakland, California. And when I go home and I look at Oak trees, and then I look at seeds, and like this started like this, it started out so small, right? And like the vision started also really small. And then it's expansive now in the world. Right and so that just is a testament just to like showing up every day to do the same thing over and over through commitment and so that that's what calls me commitment. And that's what keeps me showing up every day to make impact wow


Unknown Speaker  14:13  

wow. I had goose bumps numerous times and also cried during your sharing of your story with your it's really moving it as I'm I'm also a doula and have been in the birth work field for a long time and a level of devotion and commitment. It takes in your personal life to show up. It mirrors that the birth experience. You know, we're the only way through is through. It's like you leave the commitment and you do it, even though at times it's impossible. And I just go for it. On that


Unknown Speaker  14:53  

note. Sorry, I'm on a little bit of a delay. I personally I think really needed to hear that at this exactly. moment and one of them. I mean, I'm in a completely different realm, but in my own personal work and calling but one distinction that I'm hearing you make that resonates is that a lot of the time we mistake Our calling for something that feels good or it's gratifying. When Yeah, like a passion, right? Like, oh, I enjoy doing this, therefore, this is my thing that I do when it's more and how you're made. As kind of, like a manifestation of, you know, what is I just am this, this is what I do, because that's what I am. My feelings are kind of sort of like decoration, though.


Unknown Speaker  15:45  

Yeah, I don't have really any choice in it. It's like this is ordained, right? It's like, it's like when something's ordained, you have no choice, right? If a baby's coming, it doesn't matter what the circumstances are spirits moving through, right? And so like, somebody can tell you that you can't have a baby. And guess what if it's ordained that babies come into your hips, right, or in some way, shape, or form that baby's making its way? So I feel like, it's like that. It's like, I don't have it's not. Like, it's nice to be able to say like, oh, but it's like, it's I don't have a choice like this is, this is like I choose it. Because it's it's me being obedient to what God has asked me to do. Right. It's like me being in service. It's like, to me, it's service leadership. So I, I feel it's like weird to take credit for something that you're being told that you're being obedient to, that you're being in service to. And so I, so I don't, like I hold it in that way of, I'm listening. I'm being attentive, it's like Active listening is, right. It's like, when you're showing up alongside people, it's not your show, right? It's like you're there. And you're awakening to what is happening in that space. And you're becoming who you need to be to accommodate that space and what's happening for the people. And and for, you know, the the burden rights, right. And so, I feel the same, like you don't I mean, like, I'm, it's happening through me, I'm letting it you know, I'm just showing up, but it's God y'all like, it's really like, you know, he uses us, right spirit really uses us. And so I just feel like, this is how I'm being used. Like, somebody played baseball, it's like how to do it. Oh, no, like talent. But it's like, it's also like, it's also spirit is like, moving you in certain ways, too, right. And so things happen, I think like that, where it's like, you know, I feel like it's like this, right? It's coming through me, it's moving through. I'm acknowledging and moving with it, and responding and taking action and listening and softening. And, you know, all the things that are required, but it's definitely like, not like, oh, yeah, let me like, oh, paint outside today. And like, it's not this, it's really, I get very clear messages about what to do. And if I don't do those things, I feel like I can't, like it doesn't leave, like it won't escape, I can't escape the thing that I'm connected to do on this planet. Like, they're like, You won't even leave my mind if there's something that I haven't done right. So I have to continue. So it is really something that sticks in that way. In my personal life. That's,


Unknown Speaker  18:31  

that's really powerful. And, Kate, I'm going to go off script with this question because it, it feels really important, absolutely go for it. Latham you are, you're leading the way you're describing your leadership is, to me really the, the antithesis of how we see a lot of leadership happening in the world. And a lot of the leadership we have is, you know, top down power over my vision. It's, I think, a lot of times great ideas or bad ideas, it's very much based on the ego, or the tangible like outcomes of it. And I would just, I would love if you could speak to your leadership and the way you've cultivated your leadership, because this is like this is the kind of leadership we need. Because it you're you're changing the world and it's not driven by you necessarily. It's driven by your listening and your responsiveness which is very, very different. So


Unknown Speaker  19:43  

you know, I you know, it's really interesting links to this question, but you know, it's really interesting is that when you're in so if you're like, surrounded by people like you or people who kind of respond in the same ways to similar ways of kind of moving to the world. When you're not in that space, or you're not around people like that, and you and you're like, privy to whether it's like in a meeting, how somebody conducts a Zoom meeting, or how a conference might be held or things like this, then you realize, like, oh, wow, people do shit really different. Right? So I'm always astounded, because I'm like, Oh, wow, like, not that I didn't know that people do things differently. But you really kind of get to see the differences and how, like, what people value what they center what they prioritize. And so for me, I think about the importance of community, right, and it's always heathered in everything that we do, like community is woven in the support of everyone, you know, taking care of everyone is always at the core of how we operate. And so and so my attunement practices are to not only support myself in being able to metabolize, like daily stress and, you know, whatever is charged in the world that I have to experience and also things I'm carrying for my mothers and for mothers and in my cellular body. But, but also it's so that I can be attuned to the people around me, right? And then the ecosystem that we've created, right? And so to me, the leadership is, is about like modeling safety. Creating space, is where people feel dignity, where they feel belonging, where they feel trust. It is, you know, like not having, you know, like you, I love that you sort of outlined how most of the power structures look like that, that we sort of engage in on a daily basis. And when we think about the larger society, you know, and sort of the grips that we're operating under, there are there's a foundation for those pieces, which are sort of the brutalities that got us to what's been sort of embedded in society is sort of white supremacist, patriarchy. And so those structures are embedded in all of our institutions, right. And so when we think about, you know, education, we think about our medical systems, we think about, you know, like, how was he, I mean, like, everything that, you know, touches every aspect of who we are, is actually structured in these ways. So we can't, like escape it hardly, right. And so people model it, and, and perpetuate it. And there's very few spaces that you can go where people are dismantling it, or building a different future. And so to me, the invitation is to, you know, really think about like, how, what kind of future do we want to build right, and, and who is valued, right, in this thing that we're creating? And what do we actively? What do we actively divesting in, right, as well as what are we propping up? And I think all these things are like part of how we lead right is in model and design. And for me, it is certainly about design, right? Like how do we design a space where everybody feels safe, and everybody feels like they belong? And everybody feels like they can um, like they have a soft space to land, you know? So, I'm always thinking about


Unknown Speaker  24:29  

not just the physical design for sure. I'm always thinking about that, because I'm a Taurus. We love opulence and beauty and everything, right? So I'm always thinking about how beautiful a space looks. I'm really thinking about how they say feels like whether that's a virtual space, whether it's in person, whether that's an experience on the client level, but in terms of like, even the structures of management, you know, all of our managerial systems in the United States actually stemmed From slavery, so I don't want to have managerial structure within our or any of our organizations, that model systems of oppression. Right? So so for me it's really like how do I interrogate like what we've been taught right and designed something different and so our training is like a is a doula training let me just like call it right I'm like, not saying it properly. But then mama go doula homeschool professional training program, right? The the doula training program is a is a is an example of that. Right. It is like a woman infestation of that, you know, of doing it differently. And, and, and, and being you know, yeah, like, it's just about doing it differently. And so, um, so that's how I'm thinking through things. But really, it's just like, you know, it's kind of like, what just happened now, right? Like, channel was like, let's go this direction, in response to what's happening, right, responding to what's happening responding to flow, right? Like, we just have to respond to energy. And then we can design things differently. And we can actually design things that people need. And so that's really my commitment, right is to, like, how do we improve the design, right? How do we make whatever this is that we're navigating better? And not from a capitalist framework? Right? But when, but from a, a heart centered space, right, of really thinking about the human needs that have to be met? For someone to walk through this planet, right? Like, and not just a baseline human needs, but like for them to be self actualized. But what do they need? Right? And why are we not designing for that? So it's really simple to just say, hey, we know these things, okay? We know these things, then let's do better. Instead, it's like, let's find ways to prove why you don't need these things. Right. And let's continue to build systems against you so that you actually never get to self actualize. Yeah, I'm not for that. Right. So So we're here to I think, yeah, like, explore new model, right? And think about how to evolve and, and how to support people and get them to a place where they deliberated, you know, like this, this work that we're doing, you know, you all through pleasure. You know Kiana as a doula, like this work that we're doing is to liberate people, right is to help people be in embodied and and deeply connected, untethered to the Divine while living on this earth, right. And so, people aren't safe to do that, because we haven't created spaces for safety. Right. And so right now, I think a lot of organizations, a lot of companies, everybody's trying to find a way to support people in what they actually need. Right? And, and see, and we're all seeing what's happening as a result of building systems against caregiving, right? What happens when there is no soft place for people to land? You have a mental health crisis, right, in this country, and globally, right. You have war. So we got to get some things, right. And I think through leadership, it cannot be at the top. It does. I think there is a way though to outward, right? And not think about up always as as a solution. But think out, think expand think open. And I think about it for as I look around the room, that I can see everybody at eye level. And that's to me is about what equity is about. And everybody having equal voice and everybody having input. And everybody has something to contribute.


Unknown Speaker  29:26  

Yeah. Yeah. Wow. So on the same page with you with so much of that I really relate to the piece around managing. And Kate knows this. This is a thing that we're dealing with internally is, you know, a small but now mid sized growing startup is where we are working within those systems that are very challenging to navigate, while we're trying to dismantle others and that is a complex place to be and so I just They are very, very, very much I'm in that exploration. And I so appreciate your thoughts on that. More questions? I know we're going to run out of time soon. So one, well, let's get this one first. And then if there's time for one more, I'll ask it at the end. But I really want to make sure that if there are any projects or work that you're currently focused on, that you really want to or that you want our audience to know about, or have the opportunity to get involved in. could share that with us.


Unknown Speaker  30:35  

I will Yeah. You will know now.


Unknown Speaker  30:39  

Yeah, yeah. Should tell us anything.


Unknown Speaker  30:44  

I'd seen it like just email you or whatever. Okay. Yeah. So upcoming, we have an excellent training is going to be June. So this is kind of like nice timing and give some people things to think about over the next couple of months or whatever if they want to do it or not. So that's true. Five. And then the other thing that we have is our sort of flagship live events, a doula Expo. And can I think we met we did the conference, which was the continuing conference. We, in 2021, we launched in October, this, this expo, which is sort of like a combination of a conference and trade shows style thing, but it was like brands, as well as doulas, and care providers and families. And like 400 people came, we were in that sweet spot where like COVID was like not doing anything, and nobody got sick. Thank you, Lord. And it was great. There was like, the March of Dimes. We designed like this listening lounge for them to have conversations with like doulas, around policy. And then they've had conversations with like families and people who had ever spurred outcomes. And they also did like a stage moment. We had, like Kate Spade, New York designed. They had this self care lounge, and it was like a wellness lounge. There's programming all day. And then yeah, it was like content all day, like you could see a therapist, you could talk about pelvic floor health, you could talk about, like, whatever was going on, it was all day, there was stuff happening in their space. There were booths throughout. And then smaller brands were in, in activated as well. Free to baby did a vaginal wall where they had like photos, it was really supposed to be. I mean, it was whatever it was evolve up, but like the way that it looks, whatever. So it wasn't really as like, you know, clear for people because of like the construction. But this we're like, we're gonna do the construction this year. So it was awesome. It was like a photo booth thing that they did. But else, it was really cool. So there's all these kinds of things. And so we have now a 16,000 square foot space in Williamsburg are crossing the William Dale Hotel, which I know you guys know. So yeah, so really amazing space. May 21 It's gonna be incredible. It's like you're gonna come in, it's like a village is like so conceptually, it's gonna be amazing. But people should come. They can interact with different brands hopefully for will be for you will be one of them. But yeah, so yeah, we'll talk through with y'all offline. But But yeah, we hope that you guys are there but hope people come and check that out and just meet other people. You know, policymakers will be there, like people in government as well that are you know, trying to stakeholders and maternal health will be there, for sure. But then, just like people who want to find out about how to like, you know, navigate pregnancy or postpartum or, you know, perimenopause or other aspects of health, right, we'll be in that space. So, and there's talks all day too, so it'll be really fun, like a festival. So, so come to that may 21. People were listening or watching or whatever.


Unknown Speaker  34:35  

Amazing. That's so exciting. And, okay, I have one more question. It's to bring back the concept of the doula it's such a beautiful word. I feel like the word itself books a feeling the first time what's a doula I want to do that just from and, and I don't think everybody's familiar with, you know, a lot of people think, is it medical? Like is it instead of a midwife? And, you know, maybe even for people who have had a doula, maybe that's they're not clear like, what is the core role of a doula? So I would love if you want to speak because you're so skilled at speaking to the energetics and the reason behind why why doulas are so important. Personally, I'd love to hear.


Unknown Speaker  35:35  

Yeah, thank you for that. So it's interesting too, because it isn't really pretty word, right. And then when you when you research to learn, like where the root of the word comes from, it's Greek, right? It comes from ancient Greek. And it actually means, like handmade in or one who serves or female slaves, right. And so when you hear that overlay, and how that hits for people who are descendants of folks who were in bondage, you know, or, you know, if you are someone who is sort of, in connection with a community that is on the margins, it doesn't feel right, you know, they mean to be calling yourself that. So, I think that like if folks feel that the word is evocative, of something that doesn't feel good, then there's other words you can use, right? There's birth attendant, I use birth keeper a lot. And you know, you can call yourself a birth coach, or you can call the person that's supporting you that there's many different ways. But what what we should understand, though, collectively, that their role is ancient. And this is not new. It's not something for just rich people, or just people have a certain type of, you know, mindset or belief system around birth. It's for everyone. And, you know, evolving out of rich traditions where we were in support in, in community around birth and other life events. And so the role of a doula is really to help someone cross the threshold from one plane of existence to another. And so we think about that we are there to serve as a guide through the rites of passage, right. So through birthing rites, or postpartum rites, right or perimenopausal rites, we are there to support that, or rights of law. And the reason it right. You know, if someone has miscarriage or stillbirth, right, so it's along this entire continuum, right? It is for menses, right, we have people who can support you, as you come in through monarch, right. So it's not like a new thing, but only because of how we constructed our society. We've been this role has been sort of pushed out to one that's become


Unknown Speaker  38:17  

more like a career path rather than someone who was just like in your community like a neighbor, auntie, right. And the doulas back in the day, we're actually evolved from the role of the gossips or God's siblings, and the gods siblings would show up alongside the midwife. Right, and the midwife would actually not just perform clinical support and care would also perform ritual would pray, would, what would you know, invokes or in, you know, goddesses would, you know, smoke the room with NSAIDs or holy resin would prepare a tonic, usually with some sort of alcohol to help move things, the gods siblings will come in and kick out the mail of the house. Like if there was a father or somebody, right, they would leave. And then the children or whoever else is in the house to be attended to by the by the gossip, and they would prepare food and prepare the birthing room and draw the curtain so that we create the sense of darkness and safety right, and they would feed and you know, hydrate the birthing person and look after the kid and tell stories and gossip and laugh and cackle and take care of them, right prepare the sheet for the birth, change the sheets after the birth, right do all of that stuff. And then also attend in the early postpartum period, with rituals, foods, whole types The things that now have gotten, like kind of lost right? In in Western culture, or are just reemerging as we celebrate confinement practices for the postpartum period. So they were doing these things, it was like already embedded in society, right? And, of course, this was this sort of system of care was disbanded by the church, because it was a threat to Christianity to have these female centric spaces, because I thought it was rich witchcraft, right. So this is like, where we start to see this invasion of, you know, men coming into spaces like this that were primarily kept by women. And so the role is that old, right? It's super ancient. And so it is for all of us is for all of us to reclaim in the modern sense, it the doula is a non clinical care providers, right. So not the same as a midwife or a doctor, who's providing emotional support physical support education, if you have a partner, they're going to do partner support, right? And, and to ensure that you have advocacy tools to navigate your birth, right. And it is quite different than having a midwife or doctor because they're there to provide all clinical care, and also to deliver the baby. The doula is there to fry all emotional care. Right. And, and to not deliver the baby. Right. So there's a pervasive misunderstanding of the role of doulas and midwives, which keeps us you know, in a state where we don't have access to the resources, we need to advance maternity care in this country. And so it is by design, that there is a confusion, right, which drives policy drives health education, it drives, you know, the, where the financials, you know, are distributed amongst any of our health programming in the United States, right. So we need to get this right and have clarity around what the role is. But, you know, it's not easy for people to figure out because there's the information sometimes can be confusing. So yes, it is a non clinical role. It is a service role, and it is available to you, and everybody should have access to the care provider of their choice to support them to the birthing process. And a doula is a version of that, who can support you in birth or post birth, but certainly something you should look into, regardless of what type of birth you're planning for. And certainly, for every type of birth outcome that may arise.


Unknown Speaker  42:43  

I am, I feel reminded in our conversation, from the whole thing about my own purpose, my own calling, and why I do what I do. And that's, that's a great gift. And I think Kate is maybe also feeling the same way. So I really, really, really appreciate you and I'm so excited that we get to share more about your work and your, your world with, with our people that we get to talk to and Yeah, huge, huge gratitude, very moved. And


Unknown Speaker  43:21  

I'd like to point something out and ask one more question. I just slapped piano this zoom is not giving me a 45 minute warning. For the first time ever, no. So moving on. I love her. She's like so anyway, so I'm just gonna acknowledge that that is the thing that's happening in consensus reality, um, for people who are called due to this kind of to revolutionary role, which is to me what you're describing, um, obviously, the first teacher is spirit. And then there's the world and other humans, but if you could, for our readership, tell us who some of your teachers are, who they can access directly in the form of people books, even films, music tools, they could access easily, like who what would you tell them about? If you want to you can think on this and and you're more than welcome to answer an email. But


Unknown Speaker  44:30  

yeah, yeah, it's so funny. You know what's interesting? It's a great question. And I was talking to midwife friend the other day about this, I mean, wasn't this but it was that she was talking about how like, sometimes she's in spaces and people were like, oh, where's the reference for that? Or is there a book or? And I think the important thing to kind of surface is that a lot of what Like a lot of the wisdom, keeping that we're able to kind of contour wasn't written, like we didn't have. First of all, like, our ancestry, we look at, like, you know, how people transmitted information, it was through song. It was through their bodies, it was in their bodies, right? Sometimes it was through food, certain rituals or prayers, but none of that stuff was written release, right? So a lot of what gives people the satisfaction of being able to kind of like, back check, right, you know, a source for something like, isn't there, right? Because you would have not survived if you made it clear that you could write and read, right? That could actually be killed. Right, that could actually fucked up, right, being able to read and write in a time where, you know, and have people know that right. And so a lot of the the wisdom traditions, now it's like, through through oral, you know, a lot like libraries where people have captured some of these interviews of folks who are formerly enslaved or, or documentation that we find from some major historians. One of the historians, I'm sorry, let me my phone was ringing. Can you guys hear me? No? Okay, cool. Cool. Sorry. Because my phone, I thought it clicked. And so so a lot of the information is not centering us in that way. It's like extracting from, you know, stuff that we contributed, but like, weren't able to write down, right, which is why you don't see the incredible contributions of Africans and African American people to, like, the Western herbal, right? Like, when you look at herbalism, like people really think like, you know, maybe they acknowledge indigenous oaks, and like, what they have taught us about plants, but like, a lot of information about plant allies here. And then especially on the Eastern Seaboard, like a lot of that information was transmitted and passed down through black and indigenous folks amongst each other, and not written down. Right. And so we're not in we're not part of the Western herbal. You know, I'm saying so like, a lot of these things. That, that I know, I know, through storytelling, or I know, through ancestry, or I know also through, you know, other to people who were in conversation and in storytelling and in song with other people who reliving that and passing it on orally, right. So that's one thing, there's a difference in how we story keep culturally it is not, it's not written, like everything that my grandmother could cook, she never wrote down, we had to learn by being in the kitchen. And then being alongside her and watching for several years. And then there was an invitation to Oh, go ahead and pass me this. Okay, pass. Okay, go ahead. Now, it was your turn to make it right. After watching. There was no like notebook of right. So it's a different lens on how information and wisdom is transferred, right, and also a different lens on how information transfer is valued. Because the more you can recall or remember, in your body, right, the more you can recollect


Unknown Speaker  49:02  

and bring into the space orally, right? The better you can keep the print and preserve things that get extracted culturally, right, because what happens is when we surface our information, people cooperate it right. So that is also the other fear, right? Is that everything gets taken. So so all that to say yes, I do have suggestions for some things to read some things to listen to some people to go look but look after and see what they're up to. And, and some readings but even the readings it's like for the for really the source material. These books so even exists to buy, right like these books are like like these books are relics, right, that people really should be reading, right and not in print. Right. And I think that that That's a problem, you know, because it's from the historical lens, you know, the people who get to tell the stories of the people who have the power, right? And people who are marginalized, and people who are oppressed and people who, you know, don't have the ability to put their story out there in the same way or don't have the mechanisms to spread it. Their stories get told, right? So that's kind of where we are even today, right whose stories get told, and you can look at what's happening with with this fine. censoring critical race theory that people don't want people to know the truth about the legal system, and its design, and what it means and how it impacts, you know, people along the margins, right? And primarily people of color. And if people really knew the truth, by the way, not teaching it in schools, but anyway, that teaching at a graduate level of legal if you're going into law school, but anyway, the fear, right, is that the stories that we have told ourselves, right are about to unravel, people are about to find out the truth. Right? That's the fear, right. And the fear is that people who know the truth that the young people who will know the truth will feel something, not just feel bad, but they will feel something, and that they feel something, they'll do something about that feeling. And that'll lead to actual change. And then there will be people who are like, Oh, my gosh, I can't, like we can't continue to let this happen, right. And that would change things. But this is a this is the culture we live in. It's one where, you know, where our ancestors were criminalized for what they knew. And, and then had to essentially prove up through credentialing. And like basically showing their papers, right, like what they knew. And so


Unknown Speaker  52:16  

everything that we're trying to do is to make sure that people don't have to feel like they have to prove up anything. And that we really trust these internal resources that we have, as, as our teachers, and that we think about ourselves as we move through the world, as making our own history, right? And story keeping and, you know, attuning to the stories that are coming and surfacing. And however you want to document them, if that is through writing, if that is your song, if that is through journaling, or self reflection, we have reflection spaces for people, these containers for them to share, that are safe and not recorded and right so that they can kind of have these, like prophetic revelations, and then journal on them privately, right? We don't like surveil their homework, right? Because we really want people to have their own journey. And so what I feel is important is for people, like, you know, like, I feel like reading can can make you feel good about what you're about to learn all that it's it helps you to tether but the birth work is like not about reading, it is about being right it is about being present, it is about listening, it is about guiding it is about being able to close your eyes, and know if somebody is crying in the room, you know, it is being able to, you know, like, in darkness, help people, you know, cross this river holding their hands to say passage, right? Like are for mother's a wheat. Like I look at Harriet Tubman as a guide, right? And that she was a freedom fighter, she was an herbalist, she was disabled, she she had all these things going on, right? And, and she was still carrying people to say passage, right. And that is what we are called to do also, is to like walk in the spirit of that power of our ancestry, all of us, right? And so not to just try to read your way there, right or resource your way there or syllabus your way there. Because this is not like this is great. As far as academia and we're involved in academia and I have to constantly get people out of this space for in school, right because it is so centered on the mind. And all of this work is about embodiment. it and so, so it is being in community, it is finding your way into, into space with others, right. And it is being in a trying to think like, it is like going to like a prenatal class, for instance. And being in that energy versus like reading about that. You see, I'm saying like, it's a different thing you're going to learn in presence, right? It's like different than reading about breathwork, than actually going into practice it, right. And so, so that's the invitation is to, like, allow your body to, like love to feel what comes up as you navigate space, and connects with what's happening in your body, as it relates to this work, like what stories you have that are and hold about your own birthing, or your own birthing journey, or how you got here, right? Like, connect with that wisdom, what was in traditions, you know, did your mother practice or your four mothers, right? Like, that's the work, right? Not reading, necessarily. Like, what I read, right, but like, a like hooking into what is happening in you, and what's calling you to do this, and then finding your source material, right? Is the way right, because what inspires removes me or makes me feel connected is not your medicine, right? You have your own medicine. And so I think you but you have to find it within right, you have to channel it, and you have to slow down to connect to tune so that it surfaces and then they'll show up and then you'll look around and you'll be like, Oh my god, like, this is so wild. I was just thinking about this. And here you are, right. Your teachers emerge, the teachings emerge, right, the lessons emerge, and in the format that makes sense for you. It'll it'll come right. But like, But seek to connect to the source material inside of you first.


Unknown Speaker  57:17  

Ruin amazing. could not be more relevant. Thank you so so so much for your time and thoughts and truth. True truth.


Unknown Speaker  57:30  

I felt like I was rambling. I'm sorry. Oh, no.


Unknown Speaker  57:35  

We were privy to your full transmission there.


Unknown Speaker  57:39  

That wasn't there. Yeah. If you only knew. And that's all I'm gonna say. Before I log off because I actually have another meeting. But one thing I wanted to, because I'm also a tourist and we'd love getting the last Wednesday, May 19.


Unknown Speaker  57:59  

Okay, oh, ciao. You can see out here. You're almost Geminis later, right? Yeah.


Unknown Speaker  58:07  

Yes. And yes, here I am stomping in chewing my cut. But when you were describing, when you were describing the pre hierarchical birthing traditions, with the guides, siblings and the midwives, and the the ritual and knowledge and manifestation that happened in those circles, I was struck by how much that description is aligned with many people's understanding of a funeral. The sheet, the incense, the songs, the passage, the reverence, and its passages, it's all these passages and all these transitions. And then the thought, that surfaced comparing that image in mind, which is very vivid, and during what you were just saying about finding source and then finding your sources and finding your medicine is that people on this path. We have to die ourselves over and over and over again, in a metaphorical way. Yeah, as far as a total willingness to completely transform ourselves with every step and our view of reality and what we're taught and what we think and where it came from. It's like stepping outside means dying. Taking a look at the world looking at the news means dying. Yeah, that was an unfocused ramble, but it's something I've been showing on myself in my own practice. And this was the visual of The pre medicalized birth made something kind of clue. Like, these are not different things we think they are. You know, we've been told that they are, but they're not.


Unknown Speaker  1:00:12  

That's right. Right. Yeah. Yeah, me for bringing that in.


Unknown Speaker  1:00:19  

So I don't know if that's gonna go on our blog. I think I think,


Unknown Speaker  1:00:23  

yeah. I think powerful. My, my, my grandmother, that's, that's how she left, right? It was the same way that that I show up to serve families, you know, that are welcoming babies. earthside it was the same. The same set of skills, right? The same practices the same, we did the same things, right, until she took her last breath. And, and so when you describe them, like, oh, yeah, that's it. Yeah. And, and my mother was like, the doula essentially. And she gathered us. And then I had a very critical role at the end that kind of helped her pass on, but but it was like the lantern and the cast 10 She was wearing and she had these earrings, and she looks so beautiful. And all of her descendants. She had three generations of girls beneath her there were all there. It was her daughter's four granddaughters and her great granddaughters were all there. And my grandfather was in the room, but like, in a very like, either way. Other corner, like far away. So was like, all the women were at work, you know? And, yeah, it's the same assistants. This is a continuum, you know?


Unknown Speaker  1:01:43  

Yeah. It's so interesting. My grandma just passed away. And it was our three generations and I was there holding it with my mom and it very similar. And that was one of my biggest takeaways was that this is the same portal. It's birthing in reverse. It's holding that curtain open. It's fierce work. I mean, it really requires much hardiness of the soul to to move back into that space and letting go. I have a meeting right now, my soI gone way over bang kill you. But you're just this is so powerful and incredible. Oh, good. Well, well before y'all. Thank you. Thank you, so Oh, yay. All right. All right. Take care.


Unknown Speaker  1:02:34  

Good. Bye bye. Bye.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai

 

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