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A Life Unfolding: Adding Birth Work to the Ways I Show Up

Ever since I was a teen, I’ve been aware of my gift to witness, support, and cheerlead others. 

I have partnered with youth and families in so many different ways over the years– mentor, tutor, teacher, nanny, household manager. I started my life coaching practice for teens, young adults, and their parents 3 years ago… And since then, my journey has continued to unfold. 

In June 2019, I witnessed my sister giving birth for her first time; I witnessed her and her husband become parents. As I witnessed my newest nibling entering the world, I knew my life was forever changed. This experience called me into a new way of witnessing.

Just minutes after the birth, as I sat feeling ALL the feelings and ALL the oxytocin, I decided, “I’m going to become a birth companion.”

I have the honor of serving families as both a Life Coach for Teens and Parents AND a Companion for Birth and Beyond.

Deepening My Commitment

The beautiful experience of witnessing my sister opened me up to birth work and reproductive justice in a new and profound way. (Thanks for inviting me into this beautiful, life-changing experience, sis!)

SisterSong defines Reproductive Justice as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”

As a white, cis, able-bodied, hetero-presenting, employed middle-class person, I carry a great deal of privilege*. Many communities and folks with identities that are marginalized do not live with the safety and assumed sense of belonging that I do. 

Birth work has ignited a deeper commitment within me, a commitment to unlearning the myths that systems of oppression have groomed me (and all of us) into believing. This includes the systems of white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy, and heteronormativity.

I have not always had a complex understanding of the term “reproductive justice,” and I am still very much learning how to engage in the inner AND outer work that is required for us to achieve reproductive justice. When I look back at my many roles– both personal and professional, though, I recognize that values such as equity, access, intersectionality, and inclusivity have been central to the ways I show up. I am a caregiver, and I have been for as long as I can remember. Now, I see more clearly what is required for all people to have equitable and secure access to wellness.

Along this journey, there are so many people I am grateful and honored to learn from in the reproductive justice space. These are just a few of them: Sabia Wade, king yaa, Eri Guajardo Johnson, Jenna Brown, and Project Teen Birth.

*If you feel challenged by this idea of naming your privilege, I invite you to reach out so we can chat.

Why I Use the Word Companion, Not “Doula”

When I first started my birth work journey, I looked up the word “doula” to understand its roots and meaning. The results did NOT resonate; in fact, what I found felt harmful! The translations of this Greek word include “woman’s servant” and “slave.” 

These terms are not ones I want to use lightly. Furthermore, I want to show up for my BIPOC friends and family, and to me, this includes questioning language. Additionally, I don’t like the gendered and limiting definitions of the term “doula.”

I met king yaa via Instagram, and they shared an impactful explanation of why they don’t use the word doula. As soon as I read their post I knew I needed to shift my own language.

In short, I am a companion. I am not a doula. I do have to say, “yes, it’s the role people may know as doula, but I choose to use  the word companion.” It is also important to note that I am trained as a full-spectrum companion, and I provide emotional, informational, and physical support for folks in a wide range of reproductive experiences, including birth, abortion, postpartum, conception, loss, and coming out.

So, I will stay in this dialogue. Because language and access matter.

Making Space for All of It

As I dove into birth work, I knew that I would not be leaving coaching for birth work; instead, I would make space for all of it. Honestly, I didn’t really consider the logistics or fears or challenges much before jumping in because coaching AND birth work felt true, right, exciting, and in alignment with my values. 

I’m still a bit in awe of how natural this decision felt, and how little anxiety I faced as I took my first steps towards expanding my work. Mostly, I am grateful! Grateful that I followed my heart, that the clients I work with have trusted me through this process, and that I get to be a witness to so many different life transitions.

The skills I am acquiring in each role informs and enhances the other. While witnessing someone giving birth may seem very different than problem-solving “friend group” challenges, in both arenas I show up with presence, acceptance, and love. My work as a caregiver takes many shapes, sometimes this is a 24-hour labor, and other times it’s a 50-minute session, but it is always aligning with my vision for the future, one in which human rights are respected and oppressive systems are defunct.

My Life as a Birth Worker

Since you are here, you know that I have a very special place in my heart for teenagers and have such fun working with them. Thus, I am excited about supporting birthing people who are teens or young adults. I am LBGTQIA+-affirming, incorporate a trauma-informed lens, and love working with people who identify as highly sensitive.

All birthing people deserve compassionate, steady, and informed support throughout their unique reproductive journeys. If I am not the right fit for a birthing person, I am happy to make referrals, just as I do in my coaching practice.

Outside of my own birth work practice, I serve as a volunteer birth companion through Giving Austin Labor Supports (also known as GALS). Additionally, I partner with Project Teen Birth as a writer and supporter. I am excited to work with other individuals and organizations that are committed to the reproductive justice movement.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the way I have added birth work services to the ways I support youth and families! Find out more about my offerings as a companion for birth and beyond here.

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