BIRTHFIT Podcast Episode 104 featuring Morgane Veronique Richardson

 

 

[0:00:00]

 

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[0:04:59]

 

Hello, BIRTHFIT. This is Dr. Lindsey Mathews, your BIRTHFIT founder and CEO. Today I have someone all the way across the country chatting with me. Her name is Morgane Richardson and she is the director of New York City Doula Collective. She runs workshops for healthcare professionals around the US on supporting full spectrum families in the birth and postpartum periods. Basically that means anyone, like lesbian, gay, bi, full spectrum. This is pretty freaking amazing. Morgane is a DONA Certified Birth Doula. She is a Certified Breastfeeding Counselor, also a Childbirth Educator and Placenta Encapsulator. She combines her professional background in gender studies and health with a deep appreciation and respect for the birth process. Morgane understands that each family enters their birth differently, and she has committed to helping her clients feel fully supported. That’s huge. She does this in New York City. What? I can’t wait to talk to Morgane. But if you have any questions for her at all, don’t hesitate to reach out to New York City Doula Collective. That is nycdoulacollective.com. You can find all their information there. You can contact them. They’re great about getting back to you because I wanted to hear from them, I wanted to find out more about this organization, and they emailed me back right away. So contact Morgane if you’re thinking about hosting a workshop, anything like that. All right, enjoy the episode.

 

All right, hello, BIRTHFIT, and welcome to the podcast. This is Dr. Lindsey Mathews, your BIRTHFIT founder and CEO. Today, I have with me Morgane Richardson and you’re the director of the New York City Doula Collective, correct?

 

Morgane: That is right.

 

Lindsey: Ooh, that’s a tongue twister there.

 

Morgane: And it’s a good one.

 

Lindsey: Yeah, a good one. Tell us your elevator speech. What is the New York City Doula Collective?

 

Morgane: Oh, absolutely. So the New York City Doula Collective is a community of birth workers that serve primarily the New York City area. We were founded about actually just ten years ago and we offer care for expectant parents and also a space for doulas to really build a strong sense of doula community. That’s kind of the overall short version of what we do.

 

Lindsey: That’s great. That’s great. Because we’re going to like pick it apart. Were you around ten years ago when this place started?

 

Morgane: I was not. I became a birth doula six years ago. Someone who I have gone to school with, who I had gone to college with, was one of the original members of this collective. When I first heard about it I thought, “What is that? What is a doula? What kind of job did she get after college?” And then few years later, I was “That’s cool. I need to figure out how to get part of that, be a part of that organization.”

 

Lindsey: What drew you into — did you become a doula first and then joined the organization or how did that all work out?

 

Morgane: Yes. I ended up getting a Master’s in Gender and Peace Building at the UN University for Peace. When I came back, I started teaching, adjuncting, at CUNY Hunter in the health department, Gender Studies and Health. It was there that I really began to kind of discover or become really interested in birth work. So I actually reached out to some members of the Doula Collective and asked them, “Is this something that I can do as a living and how do I join?” Because while teaching is absolutely wonderful, I want to be kind of on the ground and hands on. I joined it. I did my training with the intention of applying to the Collective as a new member. I worked my way on up to director from kind of baseline, no births.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. That’s pretty amazing. That’s like what they teach you or try to teach you in business classes.

 

Morgane: Yeah. I never thought that would happen to me.

 

[0:10:00]

 

Lindsey: Oh. So you mentioned you went to school, I forgot your degree. You just mentioned it for gender studies, correct?

 

Morgane: Correct.

 

Lindsey: So, how did you choose that way back then? How did your path start?

 

Morgane: How did that happen? I had always been interested in gender and reproductive justice and race and kind of the intersection of all of those. I say that I was a professional feminist activist out of college when I had no idea what I wanted to do other than talk about these issues that were near and dear to me. I ended up, I went to Middlebury College, which was a small liberal arts very elite school. I wanted a place where I could have a little bit more diversity but also really delve into gender, what that was, and what it meant and what reproductive justice meant. So I ended up finding this little school in Costa Rica which is the University for Peace. It’s a UN mandated school.

 

Lindsey: Wow.

 

Morgane: Yeah. It’s an absolutely incredible school where you can go and get a master’s program. You can go and get your doctorate as well now. But it was this place where I could study with people from around the world. There were only a handful of us who were from Western world.

 

Lindsey: Wow. Yeah, that’s amazing.

 

Morgane: Which was incredible.

 

Lindsey: Yeah.

 

Morgane: Yeah.

 

Lindsey: So how long was your study there?

 

Morgane: So that program is a one-year intensive. In an ideal world you take about another year to write your master’s thesis, whether that’s a year or two years or whatever that looks like for you, and you get support along the way. So it’s a nice accelerated program for anyone who is interested.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. Heck, yeah. That is wild. So, yeah, what was the biggest takeaway or how did that help prepare you for your doula role and jumping into the doula world?

 

Morgane: Yeah. As a feminist activist, well, feminist activist, yes, in the US, I think that we or I had, I should speak for myself, kind of a very specific and very narrow view of what gender meant. By that I mean, for example, it was okay for me to go often and talk about The Vagina Monologues and how we can empower women through the arts. For so many other people around the world, even just saying that word “vagina” was really offensive, right?

 

Lindsey: Yeah.

 

Morgane: So while I learned a lot academically, what I really learned was I learned a lot culturally and the differences that we all have when we come into this work all wanting to do good. In terms of doula work, certainly I think that there is a space for wanting to ensure that everyone has this beautiful, natural and vaginal birth. But it’s also incredibly important to understand that there are different ways to birth. There are different ways to be pregnant. There are different ways that people become pregnant, all of that. That certainly has kind of the lessons that I learned at U Peace is in terms of how people approach the world and gender and their bodies really impacted how I approach doula work.

 

Lindsey: Wow. So you must take on like the full spectrum of couples and like being their doula and supporting them through we like to call it the motherhood transition. But, yeah, I’m thinking of some of my friends right now who are two guys, they’re married, and they’re literally just starting this process of okay, how do we bring a kid into this world? What’s it like supporting like a family like that?

 

Morgane: Yeah. Actually, you know but everyone else doesn’t know, I am currently expecting as well.

 

Lindsey: Yeah.

 

Morgane: Due on the first week of May with my wife. When my wife and I began thinking about conceiving and what that process would look like and how much it would cost and who would carry all of that, I realized that there wasn’t a big enough space, that there wasn’t really space for people who I identified outside of kind of the norm within the birth world, within the birthing culture. It’s a transition into parenthood. It’s a transition into parenthood, right? But it impacts us differently based on the realities of an individual’s reality.

 

[0:15:34]

 

Lindsey: For sure. Yeah.

 

Morgane: So in terms of how I support families, it looks the same and it looks very different too depending on the family structure. Whereas one family we might just be talking about the basics of what are your options? How are you feeling in birth? Are you feeling supported? Do you know about positions and coping techniques? Have you been exercising? For another family, it might look like, “What is that process of second parent adoption for you?” and “Do you have the financial resources to make all of the decisions that you want to be able to make?” That’s a huge part I think of being a doula, especially on a place like New York City or any large city where you have a melting pot of different people and families and communities.

 

Lindsey: So true. Yeah. You’re literally probably like months ahead of these guys, and they’re just talking about some of these stuff like “Do we have a surrogate? Do we adopt?” things like that.

 

Morgane: You should give them my info.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. I’m like, “Okay, they need to connect with you.”

 

Morgane: We’ll just talk as friends. Tell them what we went through.

 

Lindsey: Yeah, because there are definitely not enough resources out. We’re in Los Angeles and you’re in New York and these are like the two of the biggest cities.

 

Morgane: Yeah. I mean, I was just looking the other day at books on postpartum and I was like, “Oh, great, another mom-dad scenario,” which I love, it’s wonderful. They’re the majority of people I support, but we’re not represented in that.

 

Lindsey: Yeah, definitely. Right now in America and I’m sure everybody feels that there’s all the like the marches and the movements and the powerful stuff with USA Gymnastics. And then I’ve been reading some people’s works that study the moon and the cycles and stuff like that. They’re just saying what a big shift we’re in especially in America and redefining roles and relationships and just kind of the definitions of everything because we group up with, probably many of us, our relationship was defined or our gender was defined and, like you mentioned earlier, I guess very rigid definitions or limited definitions. What would you say is going on in the world right now? Big question, huh?

 

Morgane: I know. It’s such a great question. Obviously, it’s been on my mind a lot for I guess the last two years especially, but also in the last 24 hours, we actually just found out that our little girl is breech. My wife is from California as well and so we’re not to say I guess whatever. We were talking about it with some folks out in California who I think are more into looking into astrology than some of our New York City uptight people and this moon. What someone said to us that I thought was really powerful actually, our doula said, “Right now we’re in a time where there are so many breech babies because we’re needing warriors to come out feet first, to really hit the ground running and to make change happen.”

 

Lindsey: That’s pretty powerful.

 

Morgane: Yeah. I said, “Well, I would love for her not to be breech and for her to look into [0:19:43] [Indiscernible].” But, yes, that is absolutely what we need. Some people say, and I certainly agree, that we’re having this big shift in power and it’s illuminating a lot of the issues that still existed within our society, the inequalities that existed and injustices that exist, right?

 

[0:20:10]

 

Lindsey: Yeah.

 

Morgane: That creates more space for activists, for young folks to speak out and to share their truth and to share their own stories. I think it also creates a greater space for people to listen, and people are more willing to listen because it impacts them now. So yeah, I think that we have a whole bunch of warriors kind of coming out right now whether [0:20:40] [Indiscernible].

 

Lindsey: Yeah. That’s awesome. I love the breech relation.

 

Morgane: Yeah.

 

Lindsey: Let me back up. I want to talk about the Doula Collective just for a second and then we’ll come back to you and then we’ll bounce all over the place. But if somebody is looking for the New York City Doula Collective, what can they expect reaching out to you and how do they join, look for services, things like that?

 

Morgane: Yeah. There are two different parts to our collective. In terms of how do they find us, you can Google nycdoulacollective.com. But we have two parts. One and probably the biggest part or one of the most important parts for us is the mentorship. What we found was that there’s a lot of doula certifying organizations out there and there are a lot of people who want to become doulas but don’t necessarily have the space or the support to become full-time professional doulas, so that means be able to make money and support yourself and your family while doing this important work. Also, there are a lot of people who would do this work in isolation. I personally can’t imagine being out of birth for 48 hours and not having 30 other doulas to reach out to and say, “What is going on?” or “Am I ever going to get home?” I need backup because someone else is in labor too, and I need backup that I can trust.

 

So there’s the mentorship aspect to our collective. If anyone is in New York or wanting to move here, we are actually about to begin taking on new doulas. There’s a little application process and we don’t take that many at a time but we’re open for that right now. And then the other side of what we do is we provide doulas or we connect expectant parents with birth doulas in New York City. Expectant parents can reach out to us on our website, on our contact page, and just state what is your estimated due date, what are you looking for in a birth worker, where are you giving birth. And then they can meet with, free of charge, any of our doulas, whoever is available. It could be two people, it can be 30 people. I would not suggest interviewing 30 people.

 

Lindsey: It’s a little time-consuming.

 

Morgane: There’s a lot to do in pregnancy. It’s probably not the best thing to interview. But interview one or two doulas who really stand out to you or who are in your price bracket who are divided by tiers or level.

 

Lindsey: Yeah, I love that.

 

Morgane: We have some doulas who are on the lower level all the way up, so a few hundred all the way up to a few thousand for people who have a lot of birth experience. You can meet them and figure out if someone feels right for you. There is never an obligation when you interview with our doulas. What I love about our collective is that they’re one-on-one interviews. It’s not like speed dating. You really get a chance to see like if there is someone who could be with me at my most vulnerable.

 

Lindsey: That’s awesome. Yeah. I love the way you all have it set up as tiers. And then the mentorship program, I think that’s huge because, like you said, doulas need this and you can’t work in isolation. I remember going through doula training and then thinking, “Okay, now what? Where do I go now?” But it’s definitely helped connecting with local doulas here and partnering with them. It’s a community, like you said. You got to support each other.

 

[0:25:03]

 

Morgane: Yeah, absolutely.

 

Lindsey: You also mentioned or it mentions on the website that you got to train with Ina May. How was that?

 

Morgane: That was wonderful. I will say that there’s a bunch of really wonderful midwives on The Farm. Ina May kind of, she is the shining star because she’s the writer and everyone else wants to hide behind, right? But there’s an incredible program at The Farm in Tennessee. If you are a birth worker, you can apply to go out there and study with these people who really brought birth back into the home. There are a group of midwives who in ’60s and ’70s said “What is going on with these caesarian rates and why are our partners not allowed in the hospital space with us and why are we just being sedated for this important moment of our lives? Let’s try and give birth at home. Let’s train each other to do this.” There are hundreds of people living on The Farm at the time in community. It’s now much smaller, but they do offer trainings for birth workers to go out there, to learn from them. The training that I did was a midwifery assistant training. It’s funny, the second I got back home to New York after that training, I actually had to catch a baby unexpectedly at home.

 

Lindsey: The universe.

 

Morgane: I had just taken neonatal infant CPR and learned what to do if there was a nuchal cord, so umbilical cord around the neck, or when to call 911. So I actually highly recommend doing midwifery assistant training whether it’s at The Farm or elsewhere. But The Farm was certainly an amazing experience.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. How long was your training out there?

 

Morgane: So I was out there for I think it was about a week and a half that I was there.

 

Lindsey: Okay. Yeah. That’s quite a bit.

 

Morgane: Yeah. And you stay in little cabins and kind of get the feel of how this place ran in the ’70s and ’80s, right?

 

Lindsey: Yeah. Wow. So it’s quite different from New York City, huh?

 

Morgane: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean I live in New York, but I certainly love the outdoors and nature and hiking and it was a beautiful, beautiful experience. As you can probably tell, I’m all about the collective spirit or community decision-making.

 

Lindsey: Yeah, I love that. So bringing it back to you, how’s your pregnancy been? Knowing all the things that you know, what has this been like?

 

Morgane: The pregnancy itself has been great, fantastic. Even with the knowledge of this breech baby.

 

Lindsey: Little warrior baby.

 

Morgane: Little warrior baby. Has a mind of her own. My little Taurus. But it’s been great and it’s also I think a little bit — there are some challenges in terms of knowing as much as I know as a birth worker. I think as a birth worker, I was actually just speaking to someone an hour ago about this, there’s a lot of expectation or pressure to have that kind of natural unmedicated birth at home. So when things kind of go off-course, I think it’s easy to beat yourself up a little bit about it, right?

 

Lindsey: To be hard on yourself.

 

Morgane: Yeah, to be hard on yourself. You think “Well, if I do everything right, if I go to yoga, drink a lot of fluids and sit on my birth ball, this baby is going to come out perfectly in 12 hours, that average first time labor.” That’s just not the case for everyone, for anyone I think.

 

Lindsey: Yeah, it’s so full of unknowns.

 

Morgane: It really is and there’s always a lesson there.

 

[0:30:01]

 

Morgane: And then as a queer family, there have been trials and tribulations. We’re so lucky that we got to this point and we’re able kind of along the way to save up to even get pregnant. It took us a few tries. We did intrauterine insemination. But then there is the side of dealing with family members who are confused by how this happened and whether or not they’re part of the family. And then we have to go through the second parent adoption process. While somewhat it’s easy, it’s an additional expense. It’s about another like $4000 just for a lawyer and a social worker.

 

Lindsey: Oh, my gosh.

 

Morgane: I know.

 

Lindsey: That’s like the cost of half a birth or like a doula, yeah.

 

Morgane: And then when you are planning a home birth, which in New York midwives usually charge. They’re out of pocket. They don’t accept insurance. So it’s about like $6000 out of pocket, right? It all starts to add up.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. Hell, yeah. It does. Wow. So, okay, breech birth. I’m probably freaking out a little bit. Because you just found out, right?

 

Morgane: Oh, yeah. We just found out. Our midwife came over two days ago and said, “That is either a really bony butt or that’s a head.”

 

Lindsey: And so did you go get an ultrasound to confirm it?

 

Morgane: We did. We only had one 20-week ultrasound. That’s the way that our home birth midwives work. But when they suggested that we go get another one, we were like, “Okay, that probably means that you’re,” you know?

 

Lindsey: You’re serious.

 

Morgane: You’re serious you want to know? I’m totally freaking out, but the thing with breech babies is at 34 weeks, there is a small chance but there is still a chance that they can flip through things like using moxibustion. My wife is an acupuncturist. We’ve been doing that. I’ll go see a chiropractor in the next few days. And then kind of the last resort is doing what’s called an external version where they manually try to rotate that baby. There are some people who had vaginal breech delivery but.

 

Lindsey: Does New York offer vaginal breech deliveries in the hospital or out of the hospital?

 

Morgane: There is one doctor in New York who offers vaginal breech delivery.

 

Lindsey: That’s like one in California.

 

Morgane: Yeah, exactly. We’re not doing that. That’s a $15,000 fee.

 

Lindsey: Oh, my God. You got that, you got $6000. Yeah, this is a $30,000 birth already.

 

Morgane: Yeah.

 

Lindsey: Oh, my goodness.

 

Morgane: We’re not doing that. There might be and I’m sure there might be in California too, some midwives who secretly maybe do vaginal home.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. They definitely don’t advertise that.

 

Morgane: Yes, they do not.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. So I feel like the exact place where you’re at is like one of the scenarios that I play out in our birth education course or with some of my moms. I’m sure you’ve talked to your moms about this too. It’s like, okay, we’re, oh, shit, 34 weeks. Somebody just told you you’re breech. So you’re going to have to make some decisions pretty soon if baby doesn’t go head down.

 

Morgane: Yeah.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. What, and you may not know the answer to this, but something like how can you stay true to like what are some tips to stay true to who you are and what you and your wife believe in and your values and stuff like that? How can you incorporate that in maybe the next two or three weeks with these tough decisions?

 

Morgane: Yeah. That’s such an important and big question. I’m actually grateful that you’re asking that right now. This podcast has turned into a therapy session.

 

Lindsey: Oh, shit.

 

[0:34:55]

 

Morgane: For me. No, it’s perfect. But I think what’s important to remember is the ultimate goal. I think that in birth there are two goals. Yes, of course, you want yourself, your child and yourself to be safe, yes. That’s probably first and foremost. But it’s also wanting to be respected and wanting to be told about all of your options so that you can make the right decision for yourself. That ultimately is why I think we started off by choosing, and might continue to, choose a home birth. I have no regrets in choosing home birth midwives to guide us prenatally even with an OB, because along the way we were constantly given choices. So if we need to make that choice, if we decide to make that choice to go and deliver or rather if she decides, this little child warrior, decides that that is the way she needs to come out, I want to know that we have an OB who is going to respect us as a family, who is going to call my wife mom as well in that delivery room, “Congratulations moms, parents,” and see her as another part of our community, our family, right? And I want to make sure that the little thing, that I’m spoken to like a human being in that moment.

 

In terms of the decisions that we make, we think the next, after trying, if it doesn’t look like this person is going to flip, then it’s finding the right care provider for us. I’m really lucky because I’m a doula and I know a lot of care providers and can choose between them.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. Are there options in New York City, like if you need to go to the hospital, do you have maybe a list of five that you would refer or you would choose from?

 

Morgane: Yeah. First and foremost, because we have been planning a home birth, the first thing that I would go towards is probably not the fanciest hospital, but it’s the hospital that would allow one or both of our midwives in the operating room.

 

Lindsey: That’s awesome.

 

Morgane: Right?

 

Lindsey: Yeah.

 

Morgane: So for us that looks like, in New York that would potentially be Bellevue Hospital which has a wonderful midwifery team. Actually, one of the midwives on that team is the one who inseminated us and got us pregnant. So I know that they have a great relationship with our midwives. There is hospital close by us called Maimonides that has also worked closely with midwives in the past and are more open to having home birth midwives come in. And then Brooklyn Hospital. They’re actually the community hospitals surprisingly.

 

Lindsey: That’s awesome.

 

Morgane: Yeah.

 

Lindsey: That’s great to know. I mean people always ask us about New York and we’re like “We have no idea.” That’s one of the reasons for sure why I was reaching out is to learn all about the resources and stuff there.

 

Morgane: Yeah. If someone had not been planning a home birth, I would say the best hospitals in terms of postpartum care, so if you know that you have to have a C-section whether it’s emergency or not, I would say going to NYU. They have really wonderful postpartum care and lactation support. And if there is something going on with the baby, then I would say going to Cornell, Columbia. Those two really have wonderful NICUs. But if it’s just a silly old breech warrior.

 

Lindsey: I don’t know. Are they silly and warrior? I think, yes. A warrior is going to come out being like, “What? You called me silly.”

 

Morgane: A warrior with a sense of humor.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. It’s a she, yeah?

 

Morgane: It’s a she.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. So she’s going to come out and say, “Hey, I was just playing tricks on you.”

 

Morgane: Totally.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. There are special spirits in there. How does postpartum look for you? Have you thought about that at all yet?

 

Morgane: We have. I think actually coming up with postpartum plan for us was the most difficult and was the most challenging. I think it is for most people. We’re lucky that we knew we should create a postpartum plan rather than being in the moment and being like, “Oh, shit, what do we do?”

 

Lindsey: “What now?” Yeah.

 

Morgane: “What now? I need help.” Because of the nature of our work, and we’re not rolling in it as a birth worker.

 

[0:40:10]

 

Lindsey: No.

 

Morgane: I’m taking off but it doesn’t mean that my wife will go back. We, at least slowly, start to go back and see patients within two to three weeks.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. Because you both work for yourself or for small businesses, correct?

 

Morgane: Exactly. The majority of the income that we got is from private practice work.

 

Lindsey: Got it.

 

Morgane: Yeah. So she will slowly go back. Luckily, it’s patient by patient. So one one day, two the next, right? But my mother is here. She’s close by, although she is still very much actively working and living her own fun life. She’ll be around as much as she can. But she’s “I want her to live it without me.”

 

Lindsey: Yeah, yeah.

 

Morgane: My wife’s mother, though, is retired. She lives out in California. Having to make that decision as to when you have family that doesn’t live in New York, when do you have them come over is big. Because when they’re here, they’re here, right?

 

Lindsey: Yeah.

 

Morgane: So we’re having her come out after these first two weeks and she’ll come I think and rent a little kind of Airbnb close by and help. She loves cooking and lives on her own organic farm out in LA.

 

Lindsey: Wow. Yeah, this is great.

 

Morgane: She’ll help us with that. And then one of the gifts that we actually asked from family instead of things was to help financially with the postpartum doula if we decide that we need that.

 

Lindsey: Ooh, that’s good.

 

Morgane: Yeah.

 

Lindsey: I mean that sounds like a brilliant plan. I love asking people about this and just finding out if they’ve thought about the other side of things. Many people that are in the birth world are birth workers. They set aside some sort of planning in regard to a postpartum doula. More often than not, they do what you are doing where they fly or bring somebody out. After like the first part, like the first two weeks or the first three weeks, when the partner goes back to work, it’s like you know you need that care then. Whereas other people were like, “Oh, we hear you but we’re going to fly mom out right when we go into labor or something.”

 

Morgane: That seemed like such a nightmare.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. I mean, it does to me too. Yeah.

 

Morgane: Just imagine it. Well, for many reasons. One was we got this great advice from a friend’s mother actually who said the person who gives birth really has become a parent in this process of being pregnant. But the person who hasn’t given birth, if there’s a partner, in my case, my wife, is becoming a parent but really that starts to set in once that baby is there. So the birth matters but it’s really that postpartum period. She said to me her biggest regret was that she hadn’t given her own partner enough time to bond one-on-one without help, right? So just giving them space to figure it out, to be confused, to feel love and sadness for the change that’s happening in their life, and excitement and fear, without an in-law coming in and saying, “Oh, I’ve got this. Let me help you.”

 

Lindsey: Yeah. “Let me show you. I got this.”

 

Morgane: “Don’t worry.”

 

Lindsey: Yeah, which they do and they only do it because they love you and they want to help you, but they don’t realize that you need to go through that process on your own.

 

Morgane: Right. And it’s important. You don’t get those first few weeks back. And then eventually, shit hits the fan a little bit and you’re exhausted and you realize, “I don’t care about any relationship I have with my parents or my in-laws. I just need someone here. Help me.”

 

Lindsey: Yeah. I love that. Yeah, that’s brilliant advice. If you’re listening, copy her postpartum plan. So I could sit here and talk to you and ask you questions for hours, but I won’t take up much more of your day. I do want to ask just your opinion because you’re the expert and you’re super grounded and knowledgeable and I love your energy already. But what would you say are the biggest concerns, factors in America’s birth world today? You’ll only get like two or three, though.

 

[0:45:25]

 

Morgane: I get two or three?

 

Lindsey: Not ten.

 

Morgane: Well, yes, so I can think of two. One is certainly the increasing or kind of maintaining infant — and it’s a little sad, right? — infant and maternal mortality rates amongst women of color, especially in the United States. I think there’s a lot of work to be done. One of surprising kind of facts that we know, that we’ve seen is that really infant and maternal mortality rates are high even amongst women of color who are at the same economic and academic, so educational, bracket or level as their white counterparts. So there is obviously a lot of work there that we need to do around. Access to healthcare, access to resources, all of that within the healthcare system. So that’s one big thing.’

 

Lindsey: Yeah. That’s huge.

 

Morgane: That’s a huge one. There are probably so many little things in there.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. One thing that we talk about in our seminars is just how the infant/maternal mortality rate, both are like pretty shitty and embarrassing for America in general. I forgot the exact numbers or stats, but for women in color, it’s almost like two times worst. It’s terrible.

 

Morgane: At the same economic level. I mean, that’s what. Because I think a lot of people think like, oh, they’re poor and they don’t have access to healthcare. But these are people who are going into the same exact hospitals, right?

 

Lindsey: So, yeah. What the hell?

 

Morgane: It has to do with the treatment of women of color in our society, right? In healthcare, you don’t know better, I’m just going to do what I think. And we saw that with, oh, God, the tennis player.

 

Lindsey: Oh, Serena Williams.

 

Morgane: Serena Williams.

 

Lindsey: Yeah, her story.

 

Morgane: Her story, right? We saw that. That she said, “This is what is happening to me right now. I can feel it.”

 

Lindsey: Yeah. Thank God she said that. Yeah.

 

Morgane: Yeah. But the doctor said, “No, no. It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.” This is someone who has a lot of power and a lot of wealth, right? That’s a prime example of the way that women of color are treated within our healthcare system.

 

The other thing now in terms of the birth movement, I was on a panel with Loretta Ross who is one of the founders of the Reproductive Justice Movement. I say I was on a panel. I feel like I was kind of staring at her with my mouth open drooling. I looked at her the whole time. This really came back up for me, again, is acknowledging that birth is just one part of Reproductive Justice. Supporting people in parenthood is so incredibly important. So not just saying “Okay, you’re going to give birth. Let me support you in the hospital or at home.” But also supporting you in like your options and helping you figure out what your options are postpartum, making sure that you have food on your table for your family, but also on the other end supporting you in the choice to not give birth.

 

Lindsey: Yeah, exactly. And who you choose to be your partner in this parenthood journey.

 

Morgane: And how many people you choose to have in that partnership, right?

 

Lindsey: Yeah.

 

Morgane: All of that is part of the Reproductive Justice Movement. I think as doulas, or probably one of the most frustrating things that I see as birth workers is that we can focus just on that birth part so much. We focus so much in isolation. It’s a beautiful part of this process of life and there are other parts as well. I think that’s a big change that we need to make. Abortion rights gets a lot of kind of talk. Birth gets a lot of talk to. We need to add a lot more to postpartum too, what does that look like. I love that you asked me about my postpartum plan. But really looking at it as a full spectrum, a complete package. Yeah.

 

[0:50:12]

 

Lindsey: Yeah. I love that. So where can people find you or your business and all that good stuff on social media or the World Wide Web?

 

Morgane: Yes. So if you would like to find us on our website, that’s the New York City Doula Collective so nycdoulacollective.com. That is the easiest way to find all of us. We’re also up on Instagram. You can just kind of Google NYC Doula Collective as well. We are also on Facebook at NYC Doula Collective. You can see all about what we’re doing. We have lots of fun events coming up that we’re really excited about. This year if you’re in New York City, we’re actually going to be marching in Pride.

 

Lindsey: Ooh.

 

Morgane: I know. I’m so excited.

 

Lindsey: In June?

 

Morgane: In June. So if you go to our website, there is an events kind of, I’m looking at it now. If you go to our website, in About Us there’s information there. You can reach out to us and see how you can join us at Pride or any of our other upcoming events.

 

Lindsey: Well, before you leave. I want to invite you to our event in Brooklyn in September. So hopefully it gives you enough time after baby. But, yeah, I would love to have you as a guest. It’s our BIRTHFIT coach seminar. I forgot the exact location but I can email it to you. Even, if you want to stop by, introduce yourself, because I know, selfishly, I would love to meet you in person.

 

Morgane: I would love to meet you too, and I would love to be there.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. I’ve really enjoyed talking to you and I could pick your brain, your heart, all kinds of stuff all the rest of the afternoon but I’m going to let you go finish nesting and doing all kinds of things getting ready for baby. But, yeah, thank you for giving your time today.

 

Morgane: Thank you so much for inviting me to chat with you. It’s both wonderful for our collective and also really powerful for me to be able to talk about birth as I enter parenthood. So thank you.

 

Lindsey: Thank you and I will see you soon.

 

Morgane: See you soon. See you in September.

 

Lindsey: Yeah. Bye, Morgane.

 

Morgane: Bye.

 

Lindsey: All right, BIRTHFIT. I hope you enjoyed that episode as much as I did. I cannot wait to meet Morgane in person in the fall. I don’t even know her or I haven’t felt her energy in person, but I could feel it all the way from New York City and she’s like a ray of sunshine. So I definitely can’t wait to hug her. Hopefully that doesn’t sound weird.

 

But if there’s one practical piece of advice that I hope you take away, and I say practical because you can literally put it into motion, especially if you are in that parenthood transition. The fact that she’s flying her mother-in-law out about two weeks after the birth, I think that’s a really, really overlooked and really important thing. Too often mom, dad, mom, mom, dad, dad, they have their parentals. Mother-in-law, mom, whoever come out immediately to stay in their house when baby is born or baby is brought home from the hospital or adoption or anything like that. But it does not give you time as the immediate family to bond, to coregulate as we like to call it, to just soak up and embrace this immediate transition together. So if there is any way you can, and like she said, her wife is going back to work almost three or four weeks after birth. I know many of us can relate to that. But if there’s any way you can, just stay in together for two weeks as this new immediate family unit, that’s huge and I cannot stress that enough. Get people to drop off food on your door step. Make food before, freeze it, get people to come over and take the trash out, do whatever you got to do ahead of time so that you can embrace the first two weeks postpartum just fully like to the max.

 

[0:55:18]

 

It really hit me that Morgane said birth is the time where the woman becomes a mother or where she is going to become the mother but that immediate postpartum period is that transition for mom, dad, whoever is the other parent for them to transition. This is where they actually get to physically embrace this transition. For a lot, it’s like, “Oh, wow, it’s here, it’s now.” So that’s huge. Embrace the first two weeks.

 

Check out the Reproductive Justice Movement. See how you can support that. Definitely have some more awareness around birth rights, women of color in the birth world, and anything that is going on in your community, and speak up because times are changing and this is a movement.

 

Thank you for listening. Till next time. Bye, everybody.

[0:56:43] End of Audio

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