Tag Archives: doula

Join us as we Renew Rebirth & Retreat

A couple of years ago, while hosting a meeting of black birth workers and birth advocates in New Orleans we decided we should create a campaign to educate our community about the benefits and value of doulas and normal birth.  As the conversation continued, and as we outlined a plan, it dawned on me… it will be great to get our sisters motivated and informed about natural birth and doulas but when they ask “Where can I find a doula?”  what will our answer be?

You see in 2012, when we had this meeting, I could literally count the number of working doulas in New Orleans and the black doulas working in New Orleans… I could count with my fingers.  In a city that has a population that is nearly 70% black… that was a problem! To make it even worse, there were NO local doula trainers.  Not ONE. Every so often a trainer would visit from afar and unfortunately, I have heard most left lots to be desired.

The way I saw it, we definitely had a problem and I set my mind to do something about it. Fast forward to today, and I am preparing to do my third official Sista Midwife Productions’ Birth Sister Training in New Orleans starting May 16.  This is the first of three I am planning this year.  The beautiful thing about my training is that while it is certainly not exclusively for black women, the black women in my community who are drawn to this work are also drawn to my training.  I am proud that my first two classes combined included a total of 16 students, 13 of whom identify as black and more than half of them attended on scholarship.

I am proud that my training is endorsed by individual birth advocates, as well as local doula and community groups. I am proud that I am making a difference by expanding the reach of birth work in my community.  Recently all over web there have been articles and questions about where are the birth workers of color? Where are the trainers of color? *Raises hand* We are here. We are learning and growing. We are working hard to do our part.

“Nicole’s passion for birth work and women’s health rights is infectious! During her training I couldn’t help but be engaged, and afterwards I left feeling like I, and all other women, could shake and move the world.” ~ Shayla B. – Mississippi

Since I conducted my first training, I have been asked… Are you going to take your training on the road? What can I do to get you to Texas, California, Florida, Georgia? And my answer has been, I don’t really know but build it and I will come.  Most recently, I have been asked about conducting a training in Tennessee. AND… when I said “build it and I will come” my sister Angelique “Sobande” Greer, herbalist and founder of Natural Choice Botanica School of Herbalism and Holistic Health took me at my word.

With that said, I am very pleased, proud, and excited to announce that my first “on the road” doula/birth sister training will be taking place June 17-June 22, 2014.  This VERY special event will be far more than a doula training as women come together from various parts of the country to RENEW – REBIRTH & RETREAT.  We will come together to learn, relax, bond, and grow within a serene  retreat center.

Now… not only is my sister Sobande the reason I am travelling to TN, she is also a spiritual teacher, healer, and herbalist who will share her wisdom with us during the phenomenal event.  I had the pleasure to learn from her during the last Wise Women’s Herbal Conference in Ashville NC and she is bout it! Throughout this retreat she will share with us her wisdom, her passion for healing, and her love of nature.

This event gives YOU a unique opportunity to receive my full 36 hour Birth Sister/Doula Training and training and guidance from Sobande all while we sit at the feet of mother nature.  Throughout the training we will incorporate time for self guided meditation and facilitated retreat activities. Whether you are at the beginning of your journey into birth work and you are looking for a foundation, OR you are an experienced doula/birth sister and you want to increase your knowledge base and re-ignite your fire, this training is for YOU!  The back drop for this retreat is the serene Penuel Ridge Retreat Center which sits on 135 acres in Middle Tennessee a short drive outside of Nashville.

I promise you this is an event that you do NOT want to miss.  In order to make sure this is an enjoyable experience for everyone, registration is VERY limited.  The registration for this event is only $850 and this includes EVERYTHING… your training, your lodging, your meals, and your serenity.  Registration is currently open and today you can reserve your spot for $100.  As the training dates approach, the registration rate for this event will increase so reserve your space today!  I look forward to seeing you there and experiencing growth, love, knowledge, joy and laughter with you!  Let’s come together and #BirthSomethingBeautiful!

“My Doula training experience was great! Nicole is a wonderful trainer and I would recommend Sista Midwife Doula Training to anyone!”
~ Queen Hope Parker  - New Orleans

Monday Musing… I am Sooooo EXCITED!!!

It’s Mardi Gras season here in New Orleans.  In fact Mardi Gras is tomorrow and I am sooooo EXCITED!! And its not because I will be participating in all the festivities.  I used to LOVE hanging out for Mardi Gras.  It was one of my favorite holidays. Yes… in New Orleans, Mardi Gras is an official holiday with three days of school closings and more.  Normally I would be getting geared up for some fun. Instead, this year, I am preparing for the launch of my newest webinar series The Birth Plan Myth Extended!  And I. Am. Sooooo EXCITED!

The vision for this series came to me almost two years ago and FINALLY it’s coming to fruition.  I give thanks and I invite you to join me as I launch this prenatal education series on March 6.

I have had over 19 years working in hospitals. I have worked as a nurse-midwife, a labor, antepartum and postpartum nurse and today I work as a clinical educator providing training to nurses nationwide on the use of the newest models of electronic fetal monitors.   In each of my roles, I have worked in small rural hospitals, large tertiary care centers and every type of facility in between.  I have seen and spoken with so many women who have gotten so close to the birth experience they wanted, but still no cigar.  (As an important aside… there should be no smoking during pregnancy 0_o)

I have seen woman after woman come to the hospital, seemingly educated and empowered, yet still uninformed about what happens during a hospital birth.  I’ve seen countless others come to the hospital completely uninformed, and subjected to mistreatment and manipulation.   These experiences motivated me to create The Birth Plan Myth; a missing ingredient in the gumbo pot of Mother Friendly Care.

The Birth Plan Myth was created as an alternative to the typical prenatal and childbirth education available to pregnant women and families.  It was created as a tool to be placed into the bag of childbirth educators and doulas. It was created to give women, families, birth workers and birth advocates a unique insider’s view to what happens on the labor and delivery unit during a hospital birth. It was developed to help you navigate the maze of modern day maternity care.

I have been given a lot of information over the years and I want to tell you what I know.  I want to give you what I have.  I want to share the TRUTH of hospital birth that I have inside of me so that women can be free to birth when/where/and how they want to.  When it comes to hospital birth, it seems like women are showing up to a formal event in a pair of shorts and flip flops.  I don’t have all the answers, but I believe women deserve to know what really goes on.  I have an intense passion and a genuine desire for women and birth workers to be armed with the skills they need.  It is this passion and desire that gave birth to The Birth Plan Myth Extended.

The BPM 6-part Series

The Birth Plan Myth Extended is a 6-part webinar series consisting of two calls each month beginning March 6, 2014.  If you can join us live you will have the opportunity to participate in the question and answer segment. If you have to miss a call, don’t worry; recordings will be provided after each part of this series.

I hope you will make plans to join me. You can learn more and register here.  Want to get a glimpse of what will be shared in the series? Join me Wednesday, March 5, for a FREE preview call. Just make sure you register BEFORE the series begins so you can receive a FREE Sista Midwife Productions signature Birth Something Beautiful t-shirt!  Now do you understand why I am so excited?!  :-)

Are you pregnant or planning a pregnancy?
Are you a Doula, Birth Advocate or Childbirth Educator?
Are you preparing to birth in the hospital?
Do you support women who birth in the hospital?
Are you fed up with stories of women having traumatic births?
Have you taken a childbirth education class and still have questions about what REALLY happens on a hospital labor and delivery unit?

If you answered yes to any of these questions
The Birth Plan Myth – Extended is for YOU!

During this series, we will:

*  Discuss the biggest myths about Birth Plans and what you need to do to be empowered with or without one.

*  Help you understand the importance of creating a personal birth philosophy and vision for your birth.

*  Teach you ways to communicate with providers that will diminish anxiety, and increase confidence while helping to get the information needed to make informed choices.

*  Discuss the difference between informed consent and informed refusal.

*  Give you a more in depth understanding of common medications and interventions, including what they are, when and why they are used and what you can do to minimize risks even if you don’t want a “natural birth.”

*  Explain the most common procedures performed on a newborn so you can make an informed decision about accepting or declining these routines.

I am VERY excited about this series and I really hope you will make plans to join me. This series will bring a perspective like none other before.  I have been planning this for a while and I am about to explode with excitement!   During this series I will be honest. I will hold nothing back.  I will provide evidence and give you details of what I know from working inside the hospital system for over 19 years.

Register BEFORE the series gets started on March 6th and receive an SMP signature Birth Something Beautiful t-shirt.

This series is separated into 3 parts.
Part I is called The Myth Explained.  These two calls are designed to give you more understanding about why birth plans don’t work. We will discuss in detail ways to communicate with providers and give you the questions to ask that will give you the answers you need.   We will talk about how to research providers and hospitals and give you examples of how to write a birth letter instead of a birth plan.

Part II is all about interventions. We will discuss the some of the most common interventions used in hospital birth including Induction medications, epidurals, internal and external fetal monitoring, and more.  We will discuss the risks and benefits of these interventions and help you understand how to minimize risks when an intervention becomes necessary.  We will cover informed consent and informed refusal and I will discuss the realities of hospital birth while giving you suggestions on how to “pick your battles” so that your birth space can remain sacred and you can avoid birthing in a battle field.

During the final part of this series My Baby and Me, we will discuss in detail the most common newborn procedures performed in the hospitals. I will provide you with information about why they are done, and tell you what the current research says about them.  I will give you a peek inside the newborn nursery and tell you what can happen when you decide not to “room in” with your newborn.  The series will end with a call that will give you the keys to creating an empowered birth.

Want to know more??
Get a sneak peek of the information I will be sharing during this series.  Join me Wednesday at 1PM OR 8PM CST for a FREE preview call as I give you a glimpse into this series.  During this preview call I will give you a few nuggets from each part of the series that you can put into action now!!

The Birth Plan Myth Extended is going to be a dynamic series.  I am proud and excited to be able to share this information. If you find this is not for you please forward this email to someone you know can benefit from the information I will be sharing.  I encourage you to get registered TODAY.  As an added incentive, if you register before the series begins, you will receive a signature Sista Midwife Productions, Birth Something Beautiful t-shirt.

I look forward to hearing you on the call!

In Birth and Love

If you want to go far go TOGETHER…

The Grass is Greener

In this world of Birth Work… particularly as a black birth worker… you can feel really ALONE sometimes.  We often feel like we are speaking to ourselves, our partners, or the choir.

Fortunately… things are slowly changing.  I truly believe social media has had an impact on what women know, share and believe re: childbirth.  I could be wrong but I believe when a picture of a beautiful couple and their newborn, immediately following a water birth, is shared over 200 times… somebody outside the choir has seen it.  After water birth

Clearly this does not come anywhere close to the almost two BILLION hits on “Gangnam Style”… but it does IMHO mean there are folks OUTSIDE  the choir seeing these positive images.

UN-fortunately, there are not enough images or opportunities to reach beyond the choir.  That’s why I am excited about an online event that I am a part of. Its called The Grass is Greener Virtual Health and Wellness Expo and I am one of the many vendors/healing practitioners participating in this event that will provide information, special offers, give-aways, and more.  We will be providing opportunities for you to learn about many healing practices and practitioners. While participating in this event will cost you NOTHING it will provide you with a wealth of information.

I’m excited because I know it will help me get beyond my choir. I’m also excited because it underscores the reality that a collective agenda will take us further than a personal agenda.  In this world of birth work, we are NOT alone and if we take advantage of opportunities outside our immediate circles, if we take a chance, if we move beyond our comfort zones, we can touch many more lives. We have to get creative. We have to embrace others  and we have to remember the Afrakan Proverb that tells us… if you want to go far… go TOGETHER.

I hope that you will consider joining us. Its going to be a GREAT ride.  This event will be held on-line and run February 11th – February 21st.  

Learn more and Sign Up to get reminders about the event so you  can take advantage of the give-aways. I will be doin some special give-aways myself! I am sure between all of the vendors you will definitely find something to help you #BirthSomethingBeautiful


Teach Me How to Breastfeed

Whether you call it breastfeeding, nursing, or giving mother’s milk… this video is a GREAT way to learn how to give your baby the natural nourishment and nurturing that she/he needs. I LOVE IT!!!

Memories & Motivations from Trinidad

I am always excited after attending an event with the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC).  Last week I returned home after a 7 night stay in Maraval Trinidad.  While there, I was working, bonding, eating, sleeping, sharing, growing and learning with a group of phenomenal women.   The women who attended are doulas, nurses, midwives, and mothers… sisters, daughters, American and Trinidadian.

Healing Hands

Healing Hands

As I sat to write this blog post, I thought back to February.  I wrote an article titled “Black Motherhood” that was published in the online publication Oya Nsoro. Below are some excerpts from that article.

Often times, when we use the word midwife in the black community it conjures up images of elderly women walking from house to house, dressed in all white catching babies by moonlight and kerosene oil.  For many, the idea of midwifery also brings up images of dirty old women who are uneducated, undertrained and unskilled.  These negative beliefs about midwives were shaped in our communities systematically as the government, the American Medical Association, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology worked together to rid America of its “midwife problem.”  A war was waged on black so-called granny midwives and they were slowly eliminated from our communities.  This systematic elimination that started with the Sheppard Towner act in 1921 continues today.  The Sheppard Towner Act, created “training programs” for midwives and forced many of them to abandon the historical knowledge and practices that had been passed down for generations.  Integration and the introduction of Medicaid brought poor, rural, and black women out of the homes and into hospitals to birth.  Maternity care become a VERY profitable business… there was then, and continues to be, money to be made regardless of the birth outcomes. 

While midwifery in the black community traditionally was an honored profession, today many hold to the false beliefs that midwifery care is second rate, something for the poor and the underprivileged. Or in some minds, midwifery is for “them” i.e. the rich, the granola crunchy types, the natural hair wearers and the vegans. 

Fortunately, in spite of these false beliefs, the practice of midwifery carries on today and is gaining momentum.   To those of us practicing “modern day midwifery” there is honor and respect in this profession.  We understand the shoulders upon which we stand and we carry on the legacy of the so-called “granny midwife” with passion and reverence. 

Midwives are, and have always been spiritual people.  Most midwives will tell you they were “called” into this business and no other profession is more directly linked with both life and death. They took care of the community. They had to because no one else would. They succeeded because they had no choice.  Today, we “modern day midwives” work with this passion and pray we can do the same.

I came into midwifery knowing that women in my community were NOT being treated the way they should be during labor and birth.  I was moved to become a midwife so that I could be a part the solution.  At that time, I had no knowledge of granny midwives and during my midwifery education; I don’t remember learning much about the legacy of black midwives.  In 2001 I was introduced to Rhonda Haynes the award winning producer of Bringin in Da Spirit, a wonderful documentary that not only celebrates but tells the truth about the legacy of Black midwives.  It was through meeting her that I began my slow and continual journey to learn more.  Through Rhonda, I learned of ICTC and met Shafia Monore, the midwife and visionary behind ICTC, The International Black Midwives and Healers Conference, and The Full Circle Doula Training.  It has been my involvement with ICTC, especially over the past 3 years, that has accelerated my learning curve and given me a bigger passion not just for helping birthing women but also to learn about the legacy of black midwives and healers.

It was with much excitement that I registered to attend the recently held combo doula training in Trinidad with ICTC.  While there, I started down the path to become a Certified Full Circle Doula Trainer.  Have you taken the ICTC FCD training? If not, no matter what your previous birth work training is, I definitely recommend it.  You can take it this July in Chicago :-) This training, is like no other training.  It is an international training that celebrates the legacy of the black midwife and brings to light our full and rich history.  It educates, informs, and inspires.  It allows us to learn, to grow and to bond.  New friendships are forged and new passions are ignited. This is the ICTC way.  Today, as I work to improve birth outcomes in my community, I salute all of the midwives and doulas working to create better births for women. Extra Hugs… Love… and Light to those of you working in the trenches, taking care of black and brown families regardless of ability to pay.  You do not walk alone.  We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Mamatoto Birth Center