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Friday, June 17, 2011

Doulas DO Come in Color!

I looked everywhere for a midwife of color who would attend my birth for a discounted fee.  Finding a midwife in general who would care for me at a discounted fee was difficult in itself.  I settled for a hospital birth with a CNM through Medi-Cal, wrote a birth plan, and educated myself extensively.  I was pissed that I couldn't find a doula of color.  Of course, I had no money to pay for one, but I at least wanted to bargain, haggle, or just communicate with a woman who could feel like my sister.  It was my first baby, I had no cash, no experienced friends who were educated in holisitc childbirth, and a family of women who wouldn't stop projecting their birth traumas onto me.

After the most self-affirming and empowering experience of my life, natural childbirth, my life took an unexpected turn.  By six months postpartum, I became a trained doula, and attended my first birth.  Doula Panquetzani was on demand: moms of color, whose parents were monolingual Spanish speakers, requested I attend their births; contacted me for support; asked me for advice; and borrowed educational resources.  Through these women, I found other women interested in becoming doulas, midwives, childbirth educators, and sisters to women like me.

In 2009, a fellow midwifery student, Cristina, and I formed: Ticicalli Yahualli (the Healer's/midwife's House).  Our circle grew into a collective and has supported numerous Indigenous women in their journey to motherhood.  Our community doula program assists childbearing women who could otherwise not afford to be sistered.  We support each others' educations through fundraising and teaching the skills we learn to all women in our circle.  We try our best to remain conscious of the fact that after a 500 year culture of being colonized, we may bring internalized oppression to the circle.  We hold internal healing circles and hold each other accountable for our actions, with respect and empathy.

Throughout my second pregnancy, birth, and postpartum periods, I finally had birth workers of color to support me.  As more women grow pregnant bellies, our education and experience grow, and we are more capable of lending a hand.  Currently, two of our sisters are studying in Veracruz with Naoli Vinaver, a partera tradicional.  We have come a long way, and I am proud that my fellow Indigenous birth workers can offer empathy, support and creative community solutions.

Grateful for my new sisters.


  1. wow. Its crazy how everything you have wriiten relates to me so well here. I am 21 years old and i am in a very difficult financial place. I'm 7months pregnant and really want to experience a traditional birth in the comfort of my home but financially i wouldnt be able to afford a midwife, however I've been looking into birthing centers that accept medical, (im terribly scared of hospitals) this will be my first birth and im so excited for this little seed in me, but im scared as well because i dont know what to expect during labour (doulas are also very expensive :( ) im glad ive come across your blog, and you stay in compton too! your very inspirational, i would love to meet you one day :)

  2. Thank you for sharing your stories. Your posts are very inspirational! Your posts have helped me cope with issues I have with my pregnancy. It's nice to know I am not the only one that feels the way I do. thank you :)