CELEBRATE BIRTH FACILITATORS
As part of an ongoing series on women's health, fertility, birth, women's rights, racial equality and more, meet three birth facilitators featured in photographer Kelly Marshall's BIRTH project.
All images and words courtesy of BIRTH by Kelly Marshall.
Acu-doula based in Los Angeles.
“We have the capacity to know so much. We can put something into a computer and get an answer. Birth is not like that, there’s a mystery around birth. And I think that concept is becoming harder and harder for people to grasp. There are just some things you don’t know and some things you’ll never know.”
“People don’t really know what we do. I think it’s hard for people to understand why they pay a high price for our work. But when it comes down to it, depending on the birth, it could be lower than minimum wage for the hours that we put in. That’s been a consistent conversation. How do we value ourselves?”
Doula, educator and Managing Director of Roots of Labor Birth Collective based in the California Bay Area.
“Birth is natural. It’s a ceremony. As such, it’s treated with a majestic royalty. For a person to birth they need all of their spiritual points to be vulnerable and open. I want our society to know how to support someone who is doing that. How do you support someone who is as vulnerable as they are ever going to be?”
“I feel that we’re disconnected from our bodies, from our traditions, from our ceremonies and from really knowing what is actually going on in our body.”
Birth and post-partum doula based in Oakland, California.
“My clientele is late 30s to late 40s and they are all scared because now they have a 'geriatric pregnancy' which is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. They used to call it 'advanced maternal age’, now they call it ‘geriatric.’ I say, ‘I’m geriatric, 35 is not geriatric.’ They are told they need to be induced, and then their uterus isn’t ready and they end up having a C-section. The C-section rate when I started was in the high teens, now it’s high 30s going into the 40s. I don’t believe that the female form has changed so much that 4 out of 10 women can’t push out a baby.”
“If we’re talking about black women, as we should be, institutionalized racism comes into play. No matter what their strata in life, black women are treated less than. There are certain assumptions that are made about them when they walk in the door. That we are predisposed to diabetes, high blood pressure, fibroids, that we’re going to be a problem, that we don’t know enough. We didn’t eat right, we probably didn’t want this baby, we probably don’t have a partner… all this stuff dumped on you just because you walk through the door of the doctors office. And because of this, women are not treated with respect. When you’re not treated with respect, why would you keep coming back month after month for prenatal appointments? Then, if something does happen, nobody catches it. That’s not right. They should be treated well enough that they want to come to their appointments.”