Decolonizing Birth Confrence

On the weekend of September 23rd-24th, Ancient Song Doula Services (ASDS) will be holding its 2nd annual Decolonizing Birth Conference on "Addressing Systematic Trauma & Oppression Through a Collaborative Care Framework". We will be opening a dialogue to discuss the effects of systematic oppression on reproductive health choices and access.

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As a precursor to the birth conference, there will be a community town hall meeting on September 20th at Weeksville Heritage Center from 6- 9 pm. The meeting will addresses black infant and maternal mortality rates in NYC. 

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During the 1st conference, birth justice workers, advocates and activists from around the country came together at the ASDS mansion. We shared our work, visions, challenges and victories with one another, and created a common definition of birth justice. National Advocates for Pregnant Women and ASDS sponsored and hosted the encuentro, with the intention of solidifying and strengthening the movement for Birth Justice. 

The following are highlights from the day.   

#DoulaChonicles

Efe Osaren CD,CPD,CLC CBE is a Nigerian-American Full Spectrum Doula and Reproductive/Birth Justice advocate based in Brooklyn, NY. Her blog #DoulaChonicles is accepting submissions!

Topics: Birth Justice, Holistic Uterine Health, Pregnancy, Homebirths, Midwives/Doulas, Institutions, Culture, LGBTQIA+, Abortion, Still Birth, Adoption, Incarceration, Trans Health, Substance Abuse, Domestic Violence, Postpartum Depression, Birth Rape, Disability, Resources etc.

Emerging Girls Summer Camp

The Black Women's Blueprint is launching Emerging Girls Summer Camp in August. Its a simple application process that's so worth it!

Emerging girls meets two days a week for 5 hours, incorporating sisterhood, community organizing, direct action, and safety training. Participants will be given weekly stipends, metro cards, and food at every session. Learning and resource sharing sessions happen through writing, art-making, poetry workshops, and leadership development. We are accepting applications from youth between the ages of 14 and 16. Send any inquiries to Sevonna Brown, sevonna@blueprintny.org.

Application Deadline: July 19, 2017 by 11:59p.m EST

Click here to apply to the summer camp at Black Women's Blueprint!

**Header illustration by Raven White

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Gender Inclusive Terms for Pregnancy, Birth, and Sexual Health

Birth workers and sexual health programs are often hyper gendered and use language that can make it seem like families only occur in cisgender, heterosexual nuclear configurations. Its important not to use assumptive or gendered terms for pronouns, relationships, or bodies until consent around terminology is established. As caretakers we must love, honor and uphold the right to self-determination and bodily autonomy for all people. Below are some examples of language to be thoughtful about.

A big thank you to JCU Center for Diversity & Inclusion!  Graphics by  Daryle Marie Ward-Cherry

A big thank you to JCU Center for Diversity & Inclusion!

Graphics by Daryle Marie Ward-Cherry

5 Herbs for a Healthy Pregnancy

For generations midwives have turned to herbs for their healing properties and assisting the womb during pregnancy and postpartum. Each of the herbs below are safe and effective for pre-conception and have many health benefits during pregnancy. These herbs can easily be made into teas, tinctures and incorporated into meals on a regular basis. 

Red Raspberry Leaf : is best known for strengthening the uterine muscles making contractions more effective and labor shorter and easier. It is naturally high in magnesium, potassium, iron and b-vitamins which make it helpful for nausea, leg cramps, and improving sleep during pregnancy. Also high in iron, the leaves and berries help prevent anemia. Taken after birth, it slows bleeding, helps the uterus regain tone, and increases breast milk.

Oatstraw: is high in vitamins A, C, E, & B and the minerals calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium. This is the perfect herb to relieve nervous exhaustion and allow for relaxed rest when sleep is difficult. An easy way to incorporate the healing power of oats, and its high fiber content, is to eat oatmeal cereal in the morning, along with oatmeal bread. Oat straw tea has a mild flavor that can be used alone or mixed with other herbs. 

Nettle Leaf: is a stonehouse of nutrition, with high iron and calcium contents, as well as an excellent source of folic acid, and essential nutrient during pregnancy. It strengthens and nourishes the kidneys, which is very important during pregnancy since the kidney's have to work twice as hard to support increased blood volume, and adrenals. Nettle also relieves fluid retention and supports the vascular system, it can prevent varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Postpartum, it increases breast milk. Nettle tea has a rich, green taste and can be mixed with other herbs. It can help ease leg cramps and spasms due to its high magnesium and calcium content it can diminish pain during and after childbirth.

Dandelion root: tea increases digestion and promotes bile to relieve constipation. It is one of the best herbs for cleaning and strengthening the liver, our main detoxifying organ. The liver breaks down hormones no longer needed by the body after birth, and any drugs that may have been given at birth. Containing calcium and iron, roasted dandelion root's coffee like  flavor, is an excellent morning beverage. Add a handful of the fresh leaves, high in vitamin A to other greens in salads. Drink dandelion leaf tea in a diuretic is needed to relieve fluid retention. Because of its high potassium content it does not deplete the body of this important mineral, as other diuretics are known to do. 

Alfalfa: is a very nutrient-rich plant that is especially beneficial during the final weeks of pregnancy. With its deep root system, contains many essential nutrients including trace minerals, chlorophyll and vitamin K, a nutrient necessary for blood clotting. Many midwives advise drinking mild tasting alfalfa tea or taking alfalfa tablets during the last trimester of pregnancy to decrease postpartum bleeding or chance of hemorrhaging.