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Historical Trauma and Resilience: Understanding the Impacts, Leveraging the Resilience

Dr. Sayida Peprah

This presentation will focus on providing a context for the impacts of historical trauma and enduring race-related stressors on African-Americans engaging with the maternal healthcare system.  Recommendations/considerations for leveraging resilience and establishing and maintaining trauma-free, supportive and culturally congruent maternal and family environments will be highlighted.


Mamas of Color and Mental Health: The Harm of State Intervention via the Child Protection System

Fallon Speaker and Morgan Hill

This presentation invites participants to reflect on the child protective system’s far reaching injury against women of color, their families, and their communities at large by targeting women who experience symptoms of perinatal mood disorders and postpartum depression, as opposed to providing alternatives to treatment afforded to white women and those who have access to more expensive, private medical and mental health treatment, or funding community based resources to aid in recovery and to avoid infant and child removals. Hospitals, OB/GYN, pediatricians, doulas, and others treating women or children, are often mandated reporters, and are trained to identify and investigate possible abuse or neglect. We challenge these caretakers to critically analyze the racial motivations surrounding the overlaps between race, poverty and who is targeted for child protective intervention and prosecution, and how these intersections foster the disproportionate treatment of black and brown mamas experiencing perinatal mood disorders.


Nothing About Us Without Us: How to Help your Institution Effectively Partner w/ Community 

Alexis Cobbins and Daphina Melbourne 

Historically, predominantly white institutions have taken from communities of color often to advance research agendas that often do not align with the priorities of the community nor value the voice of the communities impacted by birth injustice. In this session, participants will engage in an interactive oral tradition style facilitated workshop where we as community will strategize around how to make community a priority in predominantly white institutions. Workshop leaders will share challenges and successes from The Preterm Birth Initiative at University of California, San Francisco to inform the co-creation of a tangible action plan that participants can leave the workshop with and implement into their working spaces.  This workshop is beneficial to all conference attendees but may be of particular interest to those who work in predominantly white institutions.

West Side Story: How the United States' (in)Action to Prevent Communicable Diseases during Pregnancy contributes to Maternal and Infant Mortality

Najjuwah Walden

Sexually transmitted infections (STI) are the least understood cause of infant death and infertility. While many black and brown communities have higher rates of STIs due to difficulties getting tested and treated, we have not questioned how these barriers impact women when attempting to become pregnant and carry to term. We know women are less likely to become pregnant and carry to term if they have histories of any STI, treated or not, but few educate women and girls on this risk before they contract an STI or become pregnant. The purpose of this workshop is to review laws and policies that have been created to ensure women are educated, tested, and treated in African diasporic communities across the globe. By learning how laws and policies have worked well for African diasporic communities internationally, we can develop alternative and complementary action steps for communities in the United States.


Communication Strategies: Tools and Skills for Healing and Self-Advocacy

Lastascia Coleman

A foundational skill of a positive client/provider relationship is good communication. Warranted mistrust is present when we care for communities of color given longstanding mistreatment and obstetric violence by the medical establishment. While systemic changes are necessary to addressing the racial disparities present related to maternal morbidity and mortality, individual work must be done as individuals make up these systems. Communication skills are not the focus of many training programs for healthcare providers and birth workers. This workshop/presentation aims to teach the participants some new skills and tactics that can be used in multiple settings. Some of these skills can be used in conversations with clients, conversations with stakeholders to advocate for changes and teaching clients and their support system how to advocate for themselves. There will be an opportunity to practice these skills after they are reviewed. 

Silence Does Not Protect Us: The Impact of the Strong Black Woman Narrative on Black mothers

Olivia Snow

The Strong Black Woman (SBW) narrative has served as a tool for survival and resilience in Black women’s struggle against white supremacy, misogyny and other forces of oppression. A key characteristic of this narrative is self-silencing, which prevents Black women from recognizing and expressing their physical and emotional pain. However, we also know that when Black mothers do speak up, they are often ignored and neglected by health care providers. How can we empower Black mothers to speak on their pain and to embrace vulnerability, while still acknowledging the mistreatment and malpractice that Black mothers experience in oppressive institutions? This workshop seeks to provide a comprehensive picture of the SBW narrative, self-silencing behavior, and the role of oppressive institutions in silencing and perpetuating institutional violence against Black mothers.


Storytelling as Memory

Bianca Mońa

Creating and maintaining one's own narrative during the child-making and birthing experience is essential to understanding one's personal journey to motherhood. This session explores how storytelling, in particular, oral histories, are the embodiment of liberation. Oral history narratives and storytelling enable empowerment and self value. Being able to create and control ones narrative with accuracy, intention, and love, allows the narrator to share, or not, a plethora of truths of their experiences. Participants will listen to oral histories, participate in deep listening activities, and practice capturing oral histories, along with exploring a brief history of storytelling in communities of color.

Transforming Grassroots Movements into Positive Legislation: Understanding Medicaid Doula Reimbursement

Chanel Porchia-Albert

This workshop aims to use an intersectional lens to connect grassroots organizing to inform legislative policy engaging doulas in NY State and nationally in the doula Medicaid reimbursement conversation. We'll discuss the impact of legislation on individuals and community based organizations and how your voice can be leveraged towards equity and using a human rights framework for anti-racist medical models of care. 



A Prison Abolitionist Reproductive Justice Movement in Canada 

Martha Paynter

This presentation shares the work of our volunteer organization in Canada to advance anti-racist, pro-LGBTQ2SIA, intersectional feminist, prison abolitionist support, education, and advocacy against reproductive injustice. Despite falling rates of crime in Canada, women are the fastest-growing incarcerated population in the country. Black and Indigenous women, women of colour and and transgender/non-binary people are significantly overrepresented in the carceral system. Over two-thirds of incarcerated women are mothers and 5% are currently pregnant; imprisonment increases the odds of adverse pregnancy outcomes. To intervene in the normalization of the carceral state, we engage in full-spectrum doula support, resource navigation, court companionship, educational workshops, collaboration, resource creation, political advocacy, newsmedia engagement, and advancing public understanding of the intersection of health and criminalization through presentations/workshops. We facilitate training for people with experience of criminalization and support workers to become doulas and provide peer support. We lobby for decarceration and investment in non-carceral public services.

Birth Justice Warriors: A Holistic Approach to Addressing Black Maternity Care in the Suburbs

Martine Hackett

This poster will highlight an injustice that is invisible to most: suburban areas are under-recognized sites of racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality. Nassau County, NY’s black infant mortality rate (9.4 per 1,000 versus 2.2 for white infants) is higher than in New York City. The maternal mortality rate in Nassau is higher than all of NYC (except the Bronx). Birth Justice Warriors (BJW), was founded to address local inequities on individual, clinical, and policy levels. To date, 32 BJWs have been trained to conduct “Conversation Cafes” with black women and focus on: knowing rights during pregnancy and childbirth; prematurity risks; post-birth warning signs; connections to local resources; and local and statewide advocacy. BJWs are conducting Conversation Cafes and events at local libraries. We developed a “Birth Justice Friendly” criteria to improve prenatal care to reflect best practices of respectful, culturally appropriate maternity care.


Radically Witnessing the Pain of Delayed Fertility with Creative Healing

LeConte Dill and Ashley Cummings

We have been Spelman Sisters for over 20 years, but we also share another kind of sisterhood. We are part of the eight percent of Black women who participate in assisted reproductive technology. Infertility does not quite capture our experiences. As a social worker and a public health practitioner, and as Black women, we are tired of statistics referring to Black people in terms of lack. We have landed on the term and concept of “delayed fertility” to describe our experiences. In this session, we seek to amplify the experiences of delayed fertility, assisted reproductive technology, and early pregnancy loss within the reproductive justice and birth justice movements. In our session, with an ideal audience of 16-20 people, we hope to guide participants through breathing, writing, and yoga exercises in order to shift our collective energies and our engagement to that of healing-centered practices and strategies.


Recentering Trans* Experiences in Reproductive Care

Krish J. Bhatt and Charlie Monlouis-Anderle

As movements expand around issues of reproductive access, transgender, non-binary, two-spirit and intersex people have been continually left out of the conversation. In hopes of addressing some of our community’s needs, Charlie Monlouis-Anderle and Krish J. Bhatt will be: Recentering Trans* Experiences in Reproductive Care.


This workshop will empower participants to advocate for gender autonomy as it relates to their models of care. We reframe gender-inclusive care as a liberatory practice within the fight for healing justice. We hope to collectively unpack how we as healers understand gender within and outside of our care work and how we envision ending gendered violence. 


This workshop is for anyone who considers themselves a full-spectrum provider. “Full-spectrum” covers all incomes, all races, all possible outcomes of pregnancy, and ALL genders. Participants will leave with tools for expanding their personal politic and practice to include, support, advocate, and be in solidarity with non-cis individuals.




Organizing to Combat Criminalization and Discrimination in Pregnancy and Achieve Quality Care for All

Oneika Bogle and Victoria St. Clair

Pregnant people are increasingly subject to criminal and child welfare interventions based on their pregnancies. Panelists will discuss the criminalization and punishment pregnant and parenting people face and provide background information on how this unnecessary surveillance and reporting harms parents and children and deters those in need from getting healthcare. Panelists will dispel myths concerning drug use during pregnancy, “addicted babies”, and criminal and civil child welfare laws that are sold to the public as protecting women and fetuses, and replace those myths with evidence and advocacy strategies that truly promote maternal and child health. Panelists will also highlight how racial disparities are closely linked to social and economic inequalities, reflecting systemic obstacles to quality care. Healthcare providers and policy makers across the country are not only criminalizing pregnant women, they are also discriminating against them. All of this contributes to the disproportionately high number of maternal deaths among Black women. In this session we share tools and resources to organize strategically around these issues.

Prison Doulas: Abolition is Not a One Time Event

Prison doula programs nationally that are created and committed to by community-based doula organizations are often the ones that are most underfunded, underwritten, and undercut. Awareness of the impacts that mass incarceration has on society is not enough to address the systemic violence that continuously occurs upon the incarcerated population in The United States especially unto Black and Brown people. Although Ancient Song's focus has been on providing full spectrum doula services to incarcerated pregnant parents, Ancient Song's frameworks of providing doula care through an abolitionist framework remains only one of many nationally that are trying to continue to bring necessary care into carceral settings. This session is an internal truth and reconciliation amongst our own doula community to hear ways in which Ancient Song envisions an abolitionist doula framework, policy changes that are needed in order to implement more sustainable prison doula programs nationally, and our own community demands. This aims to also be a community skill share towards collective efforts in reviving the current prison doula program at Ancient Song which is currently frozen due to over endured doula burnout and cuts to funding. 

The Birth Justice Defenders: Mobilizing Communities in the Fight for Respectful Care at Birth 

Angela Castillo, Clarisse Kouadjo, Nysheva Starr

In this session the Birth Justice Defenders (BJDs) will speak about how they have been able to use the skills gained from Storytelling trainings and Patient Advocacy workshops attended over the past year, to disrupt the regular disrespect faced by Black People and People of Color (POC) when seeking reproductive care. The BJDs will share how their work as defenders has served as a mechanism for Truth and Reconciliation for Black Bodies and Bodies of Color within the medical industry.

Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations: Addressing New York State’s Role in Reproductive Injustice
Katy McFadden

The neighborhood with the highest infant mortality rate in NYC was segregated Black by the State and is served by one of the most dangerous hospitals in America- also run by the State.  In this workshop, a midwife and former NICU nurse at this hospital explains how policies from Albany create disparities in Brooklyn through the unequal and white-favoring distribution of billions of dollars that systemically underfunds "high Black-serving" hospitals.  Inadequate funding causes inadequate staffing causes inadequate care. Given the high concentration of black infants in few hospitals, this generates population-level disparities.  We are trying to solve billion dollar problems with million dollar projects.  New York's government will not be honest about root causes because the extent to which it would be implicated and the expense involved in fixing them.  Through a process of Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations, affected communities could be given the space to elucidate root causes, the power to eliminate them, and resources to compensate those who have already experienced real and lasting harm. 

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