"Relcaiming latinx birth traditions"

Reclaiming Latinx Birth Traditions

–> En Español <–

Hi! I’m Cassie, a Mexican mom and doula from Chicago! I have one adventurous toddler I keep close to me. We are inseparable, and our bond came right away. Here’s a little bit about our journey together…

I am as determined as my toddler. When I decided I wanted to have an unmedicated birth, my family and friends seemed shocked.

After doing a lot of reading and research, I thought, “My grandmother had 6 children. I can handle this one single birth.” I considered the women who came before me and their strength. I thought of other mothers who are deemed “crazy loca” for wanting an unmedicated labor. So I decided to surround myself with positive birth stories.

First, I switched to Midwifery care. Meanwhile, morning sickness was hitting me hard for a long period of time. I decided to try natural remedies, such as tea and vitamins. By month 6, I was starting to feel more like myself. BUT it was my 6th month of pregnancy—I had a lot of catching up to do on my path to a “natural” birth.

I took a childbirth education class, found a birth doula, and began reading up on comfort techniques. I was drawn to the notion of moving throughout labor and watched videos of moms dancing to salsa in the early stages. Though my salsa moves never made an appearance at the hospital, I found comfort knowing that I wasn’t alone in my dreams of a natural birth plan.

The time I spent preparing for birth was time I took for myself. It was time I needed to reclaim my confidence, review resources, and examine the evidence based information I had available to me. This time is absolutely essential to us as Latinx birthing families.

New moms need an unconditionally supportive community to bolster the strengths and information they already carry. I’ve seen the power of a group of women who tend to a mother’s fears, worries, and overall questions. It can instill confidence that carries the mother through the difficult moments that come with motherhood. We can and should preserve these cultural traditions by being physically and emotionally present for our hermanas. Our support prenatally, during labor, and during the “cuarentena,” gives power to the mother’s voice.

Looking back, as a mother and a birth doula, I am proud. I threw myself deeply into the unknown and searched for the information I needed. Reclaiming traditions—natural remedies, prenatal and labor support from other women, and even using a rebozo to help lift my belly at the end of pregnancy—reconnected me to what I wanted but couldn’t describe: a strong connection with my roots that had been there all along.

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Where to find me:
www.loveyourdoula.org  /  Facebook  /  Instagram

Healthy Families at Advocate Illinois Masonic (tel: 773.296.5943)
Chicago Latina Moms
Chicago Volunteer Doulas

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ARTWORK by Cameron Light

You can follow Cameron on Instagram as @stellar.bear or on Facebook as Stellarbear. To purchase any current work, commission a new piece, or to find out more about Cameron’s new set of affirmation cards (which this picture is a part of), please feel free to contact Cameron through social media or by email at enlightenedcam@gmail.com.

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Editor’s Note: Thank you, Cassie, for sharing your perspective as part of the Birth Equity Leadership Academy‘s 2018 Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month Series, “Reclaiming our Traditions on Breastfeeding and Birth / Reclamando Nuestras Tradiciones Sobre La Lactancia y El Parto.”
lessons from the field funding strategy

Building for Birth Equity: Lessons from the Field

HealthConnect One (HC One) launched the Birth Equity Leadership Academy (BELA) in the spring of 2017, to develop effective and authentic leadership on maternal and child health within communities that are often marginalized, and to amplify the voices of these leaders through a coordinated national network.

BELA is the first national network focused on birth equity.

After approximately 18 months of implementation, we have identified six key lessons learned:

  1. Community and connection break the isolation of individual birth workers
  2. Modeling, support and mentorship impact how individuals work with families and community
  3. Seed grants paired with mentorship launch innovative, expansive ideas
  4. Developing leadership in communities means supporting both professional and personal growth
  5. Focusing on equity requires a significant time investment
  6. Time, capacity and process are crucial elements of success

For details, please download the full brief here:


A vital part of BELA is the community projects initiative, which provides mini grants and technical support in order to increase capacity for serving vulnerable and marginalized communities around maternal and child health.

HealthConnect One is currently supporting community demonstration projects from BELA leaders across the country in the form of $80,000 in mini grants. The overarching goals of these mini grants are to foster collaboration, share learning, and support new or current work in underserved communities and communities of color.

For a summary of lessons learned in launching this mini grant funding strategy, please download the full brief here:


Interview with Esperanza Dodge, Durbin CHW Awardee & Operations Director of Young Women United

Birth Work in New Mexico

Sometimes, we don’t know all the birth options that are available to us and even if we do, they aren’t always accessible. It’s pretty cool that here In New Mexico, Medicaid covers home births and freestanding birth center births with a licensed midwife. It’s such a great option for many seeking a respectful perinatal care.

Many who hear about this after giving birth wish they knew of it sooner so they could have received that type of care. While I did know about home births when pregnant, I really wish I knew I could give birth at a freestanding birth center as this option really appeals to me as a single mom. . It could have meant so much to have prenatal, labor and postpartum care where I wasn’t rushed, but was listened to and my body and birth experience was treated respectfully. Pregnant women and people need a trusted relationship with their provider, not just the provider on shift at a hospital while you’re in labor. It makes a big difference when women and people of color can access birth workers that look like us. Our birth outcomes are better for it too.

Through my work at Young Women United (YWU), I helped launch the New Mexico Doula Association alongside other New Mexico-based BELA leaders to support doulas in New Mexico, advocate to make doula work sustainable and increase the number of women and people of color birth workers, especially in rural areas. My desire is to advocate for doulas and midwives because their jobs are so important in supporting the pregnant person and babies. It’s challenging for doulas to both have the time and energy to do birth work, but also spend their time doing birth equity work. As a non-doula, I hope I can be part of making their work a little easier and accessible to families most in need of this service. YWU is also conducting a research project that looks at the birth experiences of low income families of color who have accessed licensed midwifery care in the state of New Mexico and I’ve really enjoyed being a researcher on this project.

Addiction and Pregnancy

The project I’m most proud to have worked on over the past year is a unique curriculum I and YWU created alongside women with lived experience around addiction and pregnancy. This curriculum is a training for doulas and birth companions to work with women and people with substance use disorders during their labor. The training is informed by women with lived experience of addiction and pregnancy. Topics covered are unlike any I’ve ever experienced in the birth workers community. Even I learned so much from the women and find the information valuable and essential for our communities struggling with addiction who also deserve compassionate care. We’ve taught this training 4 times and every time, it has made a meaningful impact on the doulas and birth companions who will be proving their services to community who needs it the most. It makes me so happy to know women and people are closer to receiving the care they deserve. It is part of a larger movement we (YWU) has done to create a culture shift around addiction and pregnancy/motherhood alongside those most impacted.

Birth Equity Leadership Academy

I didn’t know I was a community health worker (CHW) until I attended the orientation for the Birth Equity Leadership Academy (BELA). One of the facilitators described it as improving the overall health of a

Birth Equity Leadership Academy Training at photo credit: Judy Fidkowski

community. It made me realize I’ve been doing this work for a long time in various communities. Being part of BELA has also given me the opportunity to host a webinar for my fellow BELA colleagues on making your money work for you, because as birth workers and advocates, finances are crucial to sustaining our work and our lives.. As a single mom I learned that taking control of my finances was essential for my family’s well-being and allows me to parent in ways I find meaningful.

The other part of BELA that I love is the regional meetings because they are rich in learning opportunities and allow me to connect with others doing incredible work around the US and Puerto Rico. It’s a great gathering where people share their birth work experiences, challenges, support and common goals. For me, it’s important that everyone is valued for their expertise in whatever piece of the work they are doing to make an impact. There are so many BELA leaders that are doing amazing work to address maternal mortality and other birth equity issues in their respective communities. I’m moved by the work BELA leaders and faculty are doing to provide grassroots level solutions and that gives me hope.

Advocacy: Ban-the-Box Legislation

Through the policy work I’ve done at my organization, I’ve been able to collaborate on and successfully pass Ban-the-Box legislation in New Mexico. It was important for me to work on this issue because it has a direct impact on the lives of women and families. Prior to this legislation, those who were previously incarcerated had to check a box on applications asking if they have any felonies or convictions, which could greatly diminish their chance at employment. This legislation removes that question. I accredit the hard work of the mothers and fathers we worked closely with who were previously incarcerated. For 5 years we lobbied our state legislators by having real conversations about what it means to seek employment with a record. They just want to find successful employment, give back to society and provide for their loved ones. Ban-the-Box brings them one step closer to this. It’s been a beautiful victory I’m proud to have finally won this year.

This Fall: Feature Film Debut on Addiction and Pregnancy

I am so blessed to be able to do the work I do, especially at a reproductive justice organization led by women of

Photo credit via Las Cruces Newspaper

color. Sometimes I’m in disbelief about the opportunities I’m given to make gigantic things happen across New Mexico, and beyond. One of the most incredible projects I got to work on is the feature film that we at Young Women United (YWU) produced that centers the complexities of addiction and motherhood. The creation of the film was created by women with lived experiences of addiction and pregnancy/motherhood. Their expertise was so valuable in shaping the film from its inception to actual production. We worked closely with professional cast and crew to bring the film to life. I’m so excited to see the movie debut this Fall. We are on our way to creating a huge culture shift in the way people view addiction and motherhood, which can have real impacts on people’s lives.


Esperanza Dodge is HC One’s 2019 Durbin Community Health Worker of the Year Recipient

BELA Leader Reflection By Tyra Gross, PhD, MPH

This month, BELA leader Tyra T. Gross, PhD, MPH, shares with us how HC One’s Birth Equity and Leadership Academy (BELA) has impacted her as a researcher and advocate.

“I was attracted to BELA first because I trust and admire the community work that HealthConnect One does and secondly because of the opportunity to have leadership development and networking opportunities. As a faculty member, I often feel disconnected with the community but mentoring, networking and community work refreshes and invigorates me. I saw BELA as an opportunity to have support and accountability with my work on addressing MCH disparities in vulnerable populations.

My mentor is Diana Derige, and from our first call, I was immediately inspired and encouraged by her work as well as my fellow colleagues (shout out to Carmen, Kimberly, Isabel, and Taahira). Diana has charged us with being intentional about self-care as we do our community work and that continues to resonate strongly with me. BELA has helped me think outside the box on not only the way to approach my work as researcher and advocate to also the way to disseminate my work. It has helped strengthen my identity as voice as a leader.”

# # # # #

Recently, Tyra presented at the National WIC Association annual meeting and is scheduled in July to participate in the 2019 Faculty Leaders Program with the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The fellowship provides in depth training on public policy. Her focus will be on the following project “Best practices in the “Fourth Trimester”: Implications for health systems and policy changes to improve postpartum care in the United States.” Congratulations!

Supporting My Community as a CLC

by Ambar Rivera

I don’t know when exactly I saw the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to take the CLC (Certified Lactation Counselor) certification. What I do remember is that I didn’t apply right away. Probably very busy, as usual. I set it up for later.

Then, at the almost very last minute, I was posting on my Facebook profile asking for testimonials from people whom I had helped in their breastfeeding journey. The response was so humbling. I got so many, and from people I didn’t even know I had helped. I had simply answered their questions, provided them with information, and to me, it was minimal, but it was definitely crucial for them. At that moment, I knew I HAD to take the course. I wasn’t even aware of the impact I was already having in my community. There was the woman who was nursing right after a C-section, the mother nursing her toddler all throughout her pregnancy, the mom with Raynaud syndrome, the one who worked full-time and benefited from my own experience exclusively breastfeeding and working full-time away from home, and many, many more. Again, thank you!

I applied, waited to hear results, and this I remember clearly…. I GOT IT!! I was sitting in the parking lot waiting to go pick up some mail and then, the e-mail came! YES!! I will never forget that excitement.

I felt like I would now be more and better equipped to help those families in my community on their breastfeeding journeys. I have always believed and stand by the notion that breastfeeding is a choice parents make, but when parents decide to breastfeed, I want to make sure that they get all the information and support possible, starting from providing prenatal education to assisting them once they have their baby.

I particularly enjoyed that the training was based on very recent scientific evidence and how knowledgeable and accessible the faculty was. It was an experience I truly enjoyed and will cherish for a long time.

I am so thankful for HealthConnect One and the Birth Equity Leadership Academy (BELA) for making this dream a reality. I can now continue serving my beloved Puerto Rico.

Breastfeeding in L.A.

Photo by Mu-huan Chiang

My name is To-wen Tseng. I am an independent journalist based in Los Angeles, California.

My commitment to birth equity began five years ago when I returned to my previous newsroom after giving birth to my first child. I got a rude awakening when my previous employer refused to provide breastfeeding accommodations and harassed me for pumping at work. That was when I realized that I didn’t want to choose between my career and my baby. Before that, I never knew that breastfeeding was so important to me.

And I realized many mothers in my community might have experienced the same barriers I experienced.

At that time, I wrote for one of the largest Chinese-language newspapers in North America. I hoped no mother would have to go through what I went through, so I quit my job and sued the company for sexual discrimination.

During that period of time, the newspaper published two discriminatory articles. One was titled “Breastfeeding photos embarrass Chinese-American to death” and described breastfeeding in public and sharing breastfeeding photos on social media as “disturbing” and “disgusting.” The other one was titled “Nursing room shouldn’t be required” and indicated that it’s unnecessary and useless for employers to provide mothers space for pumping.

The two articles angered many nursing moms in my local Chinese-American community. Hundreds of mothers wrote to the newspaper to protest. A friend of mine and I wanted to organize a nurse-in to demand an apology from the newspaper, but we couldn’t recruit enough Chinese-American mothers who were comfortable about breastfeeding in public.

The nurse-in did not happen. We then wanted to start a photo voice project to show that breastfeeding photos are beautiful instead of “disturbing and disgusting,” but we once again faced multiple challenges: It’s hard to recruit models and put the money together for a professional photographer.

The photo voice project didn’t happen, either. However, my case was settled, and I started to volunteer for local breastfeeding organizations. Last year, I gathered a group of like-minded individuals and founded the Asian Breastfeeding Task Force of Greater Los Angeles. I also became a leader with HealthConnect One’s Birth Equity Leadership Academy (BELA). I see this as a great opportunity to make that photo voice project happen — I can finally recruit models with the Asian Breastfeeding Task Force and hire a photographer with BELA Community Project funding. I submitted the application and was selected.

Now I’m working with my team at the task force to put the project together. Thanks to HealthConnect One and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, after five years, the photo voice project is finally happening!

Read more by To-Wen Tseng at:

And I’d rather be breastfeeding.
One mother’s thoughts on family friendly policy, gender equality at workplace, among other things.

I am so much stronger than I have been led to believe image

Recuperando Tradiciones de Parto Latinas

–> In English <–

¡Hola! ¡Soy Cassie, madre mexicana y Doula de la ciudad de Chicago! Tengo un niño aventurero al que siempre mantengo cerquita de mí. Somos inseparables y nuestro vínculo floreció inmediatamente al nacer. Aquí les comparto un poco sobre nuestro recorrido juntos…

Soy tan determinada como mi chiquito, cuando decidí que quería tener un parto sin medicamentos, mi familia y amigos se sorprendieron.

Después de leer e investigar mucho, pensé: “Mi abuela tuvo 6 hijos, entonces yo podré con este único parto”. Consideré la fortaleza de las mujeres que vinieron antes de a mí y su fuerza. Pensé en otras madres a las que se les considera locas por querer un parto natural. Así que decidí rodearme de historias positivas de parto.

Primero, cambié a cuidados de Partería. Mientras tanto, las náuseas matutinas me estaban afectando horriblemente durante mucho tiempo. Decidí probar remedios naturales, como té y vitaminas. Alrededor del sexto mes me empecé a sentir más como si fuese yo misma. PERO ya era mi sexto mes de embarazo; tenía que ponerme al día en mi camino hacia un parto “natural”.

Tomé una clase de educación prenatal, encontré una Doula de partos y comencé a leer sobre técnicas de confort. Me atrajo la idea de moverme durante todo el trabajo de parto y vi videos de mamás bailando salsa durante las primeras etapas. Aunque mis movimientos de salsa nunca surgieron en el hospital, me reconfortó saber que no estaba sola en mis sueños de tener un parto natural.

El tiempo que invertí en prepararme para el parto fue un período que tomé para mí misma. Fue un tiempo que necesitaba para recuperar mi confianza, revisar recursos y examinar toda la información basada en evidencia que tenía a mi disposición. Este espacio de tiempo es absolutamente esencial para nosotros como familias Latinx que van a dar a luz.

Las nuevas mamás necesitan una comunidad de apoyo incondicional para reafirmar la fortaleza y la información que ya poseen. Yo he visto el poder que tiene un grupo de mujeres que atiende los miedos, las preocupaciones y las preguntas generales de una madre. Esto puede infundir confianza que guía a la madre a través de los momentos difíciles que acompañan la maternidad. Podemos y debemos preservar estas tradiciones culturales al estar física y emocionalmente presentes para nuestras hermanas. Nuestro apoyo prenatal, durante el parto y durante la “cuarentena” le da poder a la voz de la madre.

Al reflexionar sobre el pasado, como madre y Doula de parto, estoy orgullosa que me lancé al vacío y busqué la información que necesitaba. Reintegrar ciertas tradiciones—remedios naturales, apoyo prenatal y laboral de otras mujeres e incluso utilizar un rebozo para levantar mi vientre al final del embarazo, me permitió volverme a conectar con algo que yo deseaba pero que no podía describir: una fuerte conexión con mis raíces que habían estado allí todo el tiempo.

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Dónde encontrarme:
www.loveyourdoula.org  /  Facebook  /  Instagram

Healthy Families en Advocate Illinois Masonic (tel: 773.296.5943)
Chicago Latina Moms
Chicago Volunteer Doulas

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Ilustraciones de Cameron Light

Puede seguir a Cameron en Instagram @stellar.bear o en Facebook: Stellarbear. Para comprar cualquier trabajo, encargar una pieza nueva o para obtener más información sobre el nuevo conjunto de tarjetas de afirmaciones de Cameron (del cuál forma parte esta imagen), no dude en ponerse en contacto con Cameron a través de las redes sociales o por correo electrónico en enlightenedcam @ gmail. com.

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Nota del editor: Gracias a Cassie por compartir su historia como parte de Birth Equity Leadership Academy 2018 Serie del Mes de la Herencia Hispana/Latina, “Reclamando Nuestras Tradiciones Sobre La Lactancia y El Parto.”

BELA Community Project Awards

We are thrilled to announce the 2018-2019 Community Project Awards made through our Birth Equity Leadership Academy (BELA)TM and supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation!

These awards provide financial assistance and technical support for the following BELATM community leaders’ initiatives and projects:

Delmar Bauta

Delmar Bauta is a disabled, afro-latinx, queer, non-binary transgender birthworker, advocating for families in South Florida. They began attending births as an interpreter for the Deaf and then as an advocate for teen parents in 2000. Since then, their mission has been to advance birth justice, particularly for Black, Brown, immigrant, queer/trans and disabled communities.

The Leadership Pipeline Project will prepare and support people of color (POC) to assume leadership positions and advance birth equity within national and local midwifery organizations. The goal is to restore midwifery to a more inclusive model in which the needs of clients, midwives, and students of color are centered.

Award Amount:  $15,000

Ileana Berrios

Ileana Berrios is an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) working with families in underserved communities since 2007, when she began as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor at the local WIC office in Philadelphia. She has since established Breastfeeding Latinas, a social media lactation support and consultation and home visiting private practice, and in collaboration with Naima Black from Maternity Care Coalition, Ileana co-wrote a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Training Curriculum which has been used to train more than 45 women of color in underserved communities every year.

The vision for this project is that all families receive robust breastfeeding and childbirth support throughout the critical period of pregnancy through age one in a manner that enables lifelong health and wellbeing, through collaboration with Northeastern Temple University Medical Clinic and Episcopal Medical Clinic, and with the support of Maternity Care Coalition’s Community Breastfeeding and Doula Network.

Award Amount:  $15,000

George Wesley Bugg

Wesley Bugg is a 2016 graduate of the University of Miami School of Law (JD, LLM), and 2013 graduate of Emory University (BA). He is currently the deputy director of Court Vision International Inc., a nonprofit that promotes youth advocacy and conflict resolution, and he serves Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE) as the Legal Compliance Officer and financial assistant, aggregated into his role as Financial and Legal Operation Coordinator.

This project will help women, men, and their families to feel empowered to seek, receive, analyze, and establish culturally competent childbirth and breastfeeding information, resources and tools in their communities.

Award Amount:  $15,000

Monica Esparza

Monica Esparza has been doing breastfeeding work for more than 8 years by serving families in her community as a breastfeeding peer counselor. Currently the Deputy Director of the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force, Monica believes in centering community members and families as experts in their own lives and communities and establishing supportive systems where all families are able to achieve their own breastfeeding goals.

This project will cultivate connections between hospitals, clinics, and community programs in New Mexico, to increase understanding of existing services, to simplify referrals, and to ensure families have continuing care after hospital discharge.

Award Amount:  $4,594

Carmen L Green

Carmen Green is National Training Director for the National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC), where she has been responsible for partner communications, research, content creation and community engagement since 2015. She also serves as a CBPP State Policy Fellow focusing on health and Medicaid in Louisiana at the Louisiana Budget Project, and leads a business, Hazel Green, LLC, to assist grassroots programs in advocacy through data and storytelling.

The Birth Story Project will create an outlet for healing for mothers who have experienced trauma and for birth workers who have experienced birth trauma, and will identify where birthing women are feeling supported to uplift what’s working and what’s failing for birthing women in Louisiana. The project is designed to create a strong collaborative foundation of community voices, birth workers, healers and social justice advocates who hold providers and hospital systems accountable for birth trauma and provide tools for sustained policy change.

Award Amount:  $8,000

Jacqueline Lambert

Jacqueline Lambert is a community breastfeeding peer counselor and Executive Director of Let’s Talk Baby.

This project will create a space where women of color and their families can come and receive prenatal information, childbirth education, and breastfeeding support in a non-threatening atmosphere, to achieve the goals they set for themselves and to talk about issues they face and meet with other moms.

Award Amount:  $7,000

Carrie Murphy

Carrie Murphy is a birth doula and freelance writer living and working in Albuquerque, NM. Passionate about equity and diversity in reproductive health, she is also a founder of the UNM Birth Companion program, which provides free volunteer doulas to incarcerated, uninsured and Medicaid families birthing at University of New Mexico Hospital.

The New Mexico Doula Association is an inclusive, birth-justice focused organization that seeks to educate about and advocate for the role of the doula in the community and maternity care settings, while working to make doula care more accessible to and equitable for families throughout the state of New Mexico. Its founders believe that all New Mexican families have the right to affordable, non-judgmental, and culturally-competent support in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.

Award Amount:  $2,460

To-wen Tseng

To-wen Tseng is a freelance journalist who writes about parenting, education, family life style, and maternal/infant health for a variety of publications. Prior to freelancing, To-wen was a talk show host at KSCI-TV and then a correspondent at World Journal. She got a rude awakening when returned to her previous newsroom after giving birth to her first child in 2013, and since then, she’s been dedicating her career to advocating for family-friendly policy and gender equity at the workplace, blogging about breastfeeding as a human right, and speaking out about breastfeeding barriers.

This project introduces the newly founded Asian Breastfeeding Taskforce to its local community and seeks to normalize breastfeeding in the Asian Community, combatting stigma with an empowering photo shoot and online gallery.

Award Amount:  $5,594

Nicole Marie White, CPM

Nicole Marie White is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) and an activist who has caught babies in a variety of settings and in several languages around the world. She is Director of State Advocacy for the MANA board as well as liaison to the Access and Equity division, was appointed by the Governor to the State Board of Midwifery in Michigan, and received a 2012 fellowship in Detroit to work on public policy surrounding the inequitable rate of African American maternal and infant mortality.

Birth Detroit is committed to reducing infant and maternal mortality and morbidity in the city of Detroit. Everyone has been born. Birth is at once an ordinary and extraordinary event. With a rich curriculum for prenatal classes, active and respectful education and engagement, Birth Detroit fuses the midwifery model with social advocacy to create safer, healthier, more educated families and communities through an innovative mobile clinic model.

Award Amount:  $7,350

Preservando nuestras tradiciones de parto y lactancia

–> In English <–

Hola, mi nombre es Ambar Rivera. Madre de 3 hijos, Amílcar que falleció a las 6 semanas de nacido, Lucas que ahora tiene 3 años y Joaquín, mi hijo de 6 meses. Soy Doula de parto y de duelo, educadora perinatal, encapsuladora de placenta, asesora de porteo, líder de la Academia de Liderazgo de Equidad sobre Parto (BELA), líder de la Liga de La Leche y activista de la lactancia materna. Soy la creadora de Holistic Birth Partnertambién soy esposa y vivo feliz con mi esposo y mis dos hijos en San Germán, Puerto Rico.

Soy puertorriqueña, nacida, criada, y aún vivo aquí y lo disfruto. Me identifico como Hispana, Latina y, más específicamente, Afro-Caribeña. Me encanta tener una cultura fuerte con un fondo diverso.

Mi compromiso de reclamar nuestras tradiciones de parto y lactancia llegó instintivamente con mi primer embarazo en el 2014. No sabía por qué ni cómo, pero me sentía muy conectada a mis raíces. Terminé teniendo un parto en casa y pude amamantar exclusivamente a mi bebé.

Reclamar la lactancia materna y las tradiciones de nacimiento es particularmente importante para mí porque este es nuestro legado para las futuras generaciones. Ya ha sido suficiente de criar a nuestros hijos sin apego, criando generaciones sin amamantar. Los niños y niñas hispanos, latinos necesitan saber que el nacimiento es PODEROSO, que la lactancia es POSIBLE. Necesitamos representar y modelar eso para ellos y ellas, para que también puedan hacerlo.

Podemos continuar preservando la lactancia materna y las tradiciones de nacimiento no sólo recuperándolos, sino también HABLANDO de ellos. Tengamos conversaciones sobre nuestras raíces, sobre cómo el nacimiento es trascendental en nuestra comunidad, sobre el fuerte vínculo que formamos con nuestros bebés cuando los amamantamos.

Un área de apoyo a nuestras tradiciones de lactancia y nacimiento que se está pasando por alto es el apoyo individualizado. Podemos empoderar a las mujeres con nuestros procesos. Incluso si terminamos por no cumplir nuestros objetivos por algún motivo, podemos hablar de ello para que otras puedan aprender de eso.

Las palabras de sabiduría y aliento que le daría a una hermana compañera Latina y a su familia para reclamar nuestras tradiciones de parto y lactancia es que ELLA PUEDE HACERLO. PODEMOS HACERLO. Ella puede tener el parto de sus sueños, puede cumplir cualquier meta de amamantamiento que ella misma se establezca.

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Gracias a Ambar por compartir su historia como parte de Birth Equity Leadership Academy 2018 Serie del Mes de la Herencia Hispana/Latina, “Reclamando Nuestras Tradiciones Sobre La Lactancia y El Parto.”

Preserving our Breastfeeding and Birth Traditions

–> En Español <–

Hi. My name is Ambar Rivera and I am the mother of 3 boys, Amílcar who passed away at 6 weeks old, Lucas who is now 3 years old and Joaquín, my 6 month old. A birth and bereavement doula, childbirth educator, placenta encapsulator, babywearing consultant, Birth Equity Leadership Academy (BELA) Leader, La Leche League Leader and breastfeeding advocate, I am the creator of Holistic Birth Partner, I’m also a wife and live happily with my husband and two kids in San Germán, Puerto Rico.

I am Puerto Rican, born, raised, still living here and enjoying it. I identify myself as Hispanic, Latina and more specifically, Afro-Caribbean. I love having a strong culture with a diverse background.

My commitment to reclaim our breastfeeding and birth traditions came instinctively with my first pregnancy back in 2014. I didn’t know why or even how, I just felt very connected to my roots. I ended up having a homebirth and was able to exclusively breastfeed my baby.

Reclaiming breastfeeding and birth traditions is particularly important to me because this is our legacy to future generations. It has already been enough of raising our children without attachment, raising generations without breastfeeding. Young Hispanic, Latino kids need to know that birth is POWERFUL, that breastfeeding is POSSIBLE. We need to represent and model that for them so that they can do it too.

We can continue to preserve breastfeeding and birth traditions by not only reclaiming them but also by TALKING about them. Let’s have conversations about our roots, about how transcendental birth is in our community, and the strong bond we form with our babies when we breastfeed them.

An area of supporting our breastfeeding and birth traditions that is being overlooked is one-on-one support. We can empower women with our processes. Even if we end up not meeting our goals because of any reason, we can talk about it so that others can learn from that.

Words of wisdom and encouragement that I would give a fellow Latina sister and her family about reclaiming our breastfeeding and birth traditions is that SHE CAN DO IT. WE CAN DO IT. She can have the birth of her dreams. She can meet whatever breastfeeding milestone she sets for herself.

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Thank you, Ambar, for sharing your perspective as part of the Birth Equity Leadership Academy‘s 2018 Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month Series, “Reclaiming our Traditions on Breastfeeding and Birth / Reclamando Nuestras Tradiciones Sobre La Lactancia y El Parto.”