Choosing Inclusion in Birth Work
Behind the scenes of every organization are pillars. Foundational pieces, including core values, that make the organization flow with ease and offer instruction in how to move forward when there is a rock in the road. For Cherry Blossom Doula Services, LLC, our core values influence and define every interaction we have with our mentees, clients, collaborative providers and community. One of these core values? Inclusion.
Our inclusion-ist mantra goes like this: We create an environment where all are welcomed to participate. We treat team members and clients with respect at all times and in all circumstances. We go out of our way to make others feel comfortable. We make a mindful effort to amplify inclusivity and inclusive practices on our social media. We lovingly support all family dynamics. We acknowledge disparities that exists, including that BIPOC families experience the following bias’s (systemic racism, significantly higher maternal mortality rates, racial disparities, and receive broken and unequal maternity care, just to name a few hurdles). And, in knowing this, our work is to lean into learning, understanding and acting toward positive change. We treat others in the way we want to be treated, while recognizing the innate wisdom of each individual within this space.
These words and practices? They are non-negotiable for us as an inclusive doula collaborative serving in Arizona and around the world. In this post, we’ll explain why they are non-negotiable.
Above, we share with you one of our core values here at Cherry Blossom Doula Services, LLC. Inclusion matters to us, not only on our team but in our all of our relationships. Lots of organizations can say it matters, of course. So, we wanted you to hear it in our words:
Inclusion is so important, especially in the birth and postpartum space. By using your preferred pronouns and nouns, I am ensuring you feel safe and supported. When my clients feel safe and see evidence that I really accept and hear them, they are more likely to be vulnerable and trust me with their care.
Inclusion is specialized, whole person care. I am not detracting from any one else’s experience by using words like mama or daddy with one family, and partners and birthing parent with another. It is simply tailoring your care to your family and recognizing that families are made in all sorts of beautiful ways. – Aleta W., Postpartum Doula
Our goal? To meet you exactly where you are at, all day every day. As birth and postpartum doulas, we acknowledge that this isn’t always easy. Your white postpartum doula, for example, does not have a lived Black experience of the systems in place for maternal health. And, they can acknowledge the bias’s that do exist for the betterment of a Black mothers long-term wellness – including making suggestions based on what they see that may go unnoticed by other providers. In the same way, your doula with the pronouns she/her/hers can ensure that you are seen in the fullness and richness of who you are by using your they/them pronouns.
On this note, we use inclusive language to further communicate our safeness with a diverse community of mothers, partners, birthing people, fathers and more. Take a moment to imagine what it feels like when someone you love says your name. It’s pretty great, right? Well, this is the same experience we want every person to have when we use their preferred language and pronouns.
This brings us to the FAQ section of this post. Sometimes, our clients ask “what exactly does it mean that you are an inclusive company/brand?” And, we thought we would give you the most solid answer possible. The following is a question and answer session between Founder, Alyssa Leon and VP, Jennifer Magnano.
FAQ with Alyssa Leon the Founder, Owner, Visionary & Mother of Cherry Blossom Doula Services, LLC
J: Why is inclusion a core value for Cherry Blossom?
A: A space that supports and celebrates all families has always been important to me. Through my own lived experiences, and those shared by friends and family, have both been impactful with why this is a literal part of our foundation. Being able to choose to use our platform, and being synonymous with love and support, with no restrictions makes me feel proud. Because this is so important to who we are, the doulas that are asked to join the team also share this core value. The team attends bi-annual DEI trainings, and other continued education through books, open, heartfelt conversations and community outreach and collaboration.
J: What does inclusion in birth work mean to you?
A: It means that there is always more to learn, and ways that we can do better. Do we always get it right? No, but those that have worked with us know we sure as hell try! It means acknowledging that there are blatant disparities that happen among our BIPOC and LGBTQ+ families; being able to be an advocate, an ally, and a resource is how we can show up for one another in this sacred space.
J: Can you give us an example of what inclusion has looked like as a doula?
A: When our gestational carrier clients (surrogates) and transgender clients ask not be to be called “mom” we acknowledge and respect that. When our clients specifically ask for a BIPOC doula, we understand the importance of having this support. (If this is new information for you, we recommend checking out the racial disparities page with Evidence-Based Birth.)
J: When considering terms like mother, dad, partner or birthing person (and she/he/they) why is it important (in your words) to use the right noun or pronoun when working with families?
Using the pronouns and terms that each individual family identifies as important is invaluable to me because it helps our families feel safe, seen and respected (which is what doula support is all about). Our goal is to use the correct term with every person we partner with in care; which means our community doesn’t need to worry about intentional negligence in tending to their personal pronouns. (Learn more about person-centered care in this incredible article from Harvard U.)
The ultimate goal? Felt safety
Choosing a birth or postpartum doula that aligns with your personal values is not only important, it is wise. When you work with a Cherry Blossom doula, we provide an internal system that ensures we are connecting you with the right doula based on what you have voiced as preference, concern, choice and/or truth of your lived experience. And, if we don’t have the right match for you – we have a wide net of professionals we can refer you to – though that circumstance is rare. More often than not, we do have the right match for you. It’s simply a matter of getting to know you and your needs better.
On that note, we invite you to inquire about working with a Cherry Blossom doula! Evidence continues to prove that families who are loved and supported through pregnancy, birth and postpartum have a beautiful and positive impact on the children they raise. (More on that next time.)
Your Cherry Blossom Doulas
Hi! I’m Alyssa Leon. I lead Cherry Blossom Doula Services, LLC – an inclusive birth + postpartum doula team in Arizona; and mentor doulas in Arizona and beyond.