It’s official—our annual birth world gathering, BORN INTO THIS, is two weeks away. This year’s theme is birth taboos. What does it mean to confront taboos within our practice as creatives, birth workers and leaders? What taboos are we working to dispel?
As we prepare for the conference, we’ve been asking our speakers their thoughts on this topic.
Here’s what 11 of this year’s featured guests had to say:
1.) Erica McAfee
Erica M. McAfee is the founder of Sisters in Loss, a birth and bereavement, and pregnancy loss grief coaching company that helps black women turn their pain into their purpose after loss. Sisters in Loss provides birth and bereavement doula services, infertility and grief coaching services to help women step beyond anxiety and fear and into trust and peace. Sisters in Loss goal through courses, retreats, and conferences is to help women Minimize regrets, Maximize memories, and Manage their path forward after loss. It’s self titled podcast spotlights faith filled black women and women of color who share miscarriage, infant loss, and infertility stories and testimonies to heal, gain clarity and peace, find hope, and become victorious. Launched in August 2017 the podcast has a community of 10,000+ sisters in loss. Erica is a Birth & Bereavement Doula, Pastor’s Wife, and Mom to two angels in heaven and one rainbow baby Maxwell also known as Super Mighty Max. She is an alumnus of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering.
2.) Barakah Sahaiel
Barakah Sahaiel is a Personal Chef, Herbalist, and birthing, postpartum, and miscarriage/abortion Doula. Sun’s Blessings, her personal chef practice, combines delicious taste with healing recipes. As a Bush Woman raised by herbalists and midwives, she has an undying commitment to serve her community to maintain true Holistic Health while bringing people together.
She offers her “food as medicine” through her farm to table nights and during her art therapy for womb trauma group gatherings, “Birthing Our Ancestors.” In her free time she enjoys moon ceremonies, dancing, modeling, acting, yoga, and supporting her artistic community. “I want to pull art out of you.”
3.) Heather Gallagher
Heather Gallagher is a Chinese American birth, postpartum and end of life doula and internationally award-winning and published photojournalist documenting birth thru death.
She is a wife, mother and CODA (Child of Deaf Adult) originally from the Washington, DC area and currently resides in Austin, TX. Heather is available for travel nation and worldwide.
4.) Mac Brydum
Mac Brydum is a birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, lactation educator, cultural competency trainer, and social worker living in Denver, CO. His work is centered on supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) families as they welcome a new baby. Mac is an out and proud queer transman who believes that culturally competent, inclusive care during times of vulnerable transition makes a tremendous impact on the wellness of a family for years to come. He has particularly enjoyed having the opportunity to doula several trans-masculine individuals, serving as an advocate and support system to ensure their wishes, needs, and identities were respected.
5.) Jennifer Sarduy
Jen lives to connect. After experiencing a major disconnect with how her providers saw her and how she saw herself, she set out to bridge that gap. Seeking connections with those who think and believe differently than her, she has been able to make change in her little corner of the world. Through the non-profit organization that she co-founded, Re+Birth Equity Alliance, she has brought implicit bias training, and deeper connections to the birth world around her.
6.) Dr. Alicia Bonaparte
Dr. Alicia D. Bonaparte is currently Associate Professor of Sociology at Pitzer College and trained as a medical sociologist with a specialization in reproductive health, health disparities, and female crime and deviance. Her research interests include the gendered social hierarchy within American medicine as well as the intersection of race and gender in healthcare practices and racial disparities.
She is also co-editor of the anthology Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy, and Childbirth. Mixing scholarly, activist, and personal perspectives, the book shows readers how they too can change lives, one birth at a time.
7.) Sara Reardon
Sara Reardon is on a mission to revolutionize the way we approach women’s health with a radical honesty and willingness to openly discuss often-taboo topics. She is a doctor of physical therapy graduating from Washington University in St Louis and board-certified women’s health physical therapist. Sara specializes in the treatment of pelvic floor disorders, including pelvic pain, bowel and bladder dysfunction, painful sex, and pregnancy and postpartum recovery. She is the owner of NOLA Pelvic Health, a private practice providing pelvic health physical therapy in New Orleans, La. and founder of The Vagina Whisperer, an online resource for pelvic health education that provides telehealth sessions to support, empower and educate women worldwide.
8.) Sera Anne Bonds
Sera is a social justice activist committed to working towards balancing the scales of access, equity, and availability in sexual reproductive healthcare. She has training in midwifery, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women’s Studies, and a Masters Degree in Public Health. Her community organizing background ranges from reproductive rights to violence against women to welfare and poverty issues to pro-immigration campaigns. She has worked on sexual reproductive health actions in over twenty countries spanning North America, Africa, Asia, Central America, the Middle East, and the Caribbean, having raised over 20 million dollars for programs impacting over three million women and children. She is the founder of a leading feminist global aid organization, Circle of Health International, a global social justice advocacy platform, ActivateUs, and an online feminist sex shop, The Control Room.
9.) Elena Rose Colón
Elena (she/her) is a queer spanish-speaking Boricua (puertorriqueña), full spectrum doula, bruja, herbalist, student midwife and single parent of a strong willed four-year-old. She provides support in birth, postpartum, abortion and pregnancy loss and grief. She is also a babywearing and lactation educator. She works as a birth companion/compañera de parto for Mama Sana Vibrant Woman, Casa Marianella and Birth Comadres Doula Collective.
10.) Cheyenne Varner
Cheyenne is a freelancer and a certified professional birth doula, trained by toLabor,Ancient Song, and Doula Trainings International (DTI) and certified by DTI. She runs The Educated Birth, an online shop of birth educational materials, including Everyday Birth Magazine. Her passion for all things creative leads her to pursue projects of the design, photography, and writing variety.
11.) Trystan Reese
Trystan Reese sprang into the public consciousness in 2017 when he decided to tell his trans pregnancy story in the mainstream media. He is proud to have expanded the public conversation about trans reproductive justice, queer families, and what it means to be a father.
He regularly trains birthworkers on the details of trans and nonbinary pregnancy, and provides support to trans gestational parents across the globe. He is also the Director of Family Formation at Family Equality Council, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ families and those who wish to form them.
Curious about BORN INTO THIS?
Join us and 150 doulas, creatives, parents and birth workers on June 6, 7 and 8 for three days of panels, workshops and discussions, exploring the birth world and its intersections. Tickets are still available. Click here to learn more.