Ten Things We Learned From Our Podcast Episode With Mama Glow Founder Doula Latham Thomas - The Grace Tales

Ten Things We Learned From Our Podcast Episode With Mama Glow Founder Doula Latham Thomas



On autonomy in birth…

In New York, I would say one of the things that we’ve seen is more restrictions on the ability for birthing people to have autonomy in the birth process.


On Black women and maternal death…

We’ve been on a 25 year increase in Black maternal deaths in the United States. These numbers actually mirror in other developed countries like the UK. They’re exactly the same in terms of the disparities, where we see Black women who are four to five times more likely than white women to die during childbirth or due to childbirth-related causes.


On racism in the medical industry…

The reasons for these deaths, it’s not because of race, it’s because of racism. There’s nothing wrong with Black people. They’re not more susceptible to illness or disease or more prone to birth disparities. But what’s happening is that we see a system that has never really reconciled how it was founded. In the 1700s, we started to see medical journals that would talk about Black women in a certain way, that talked about certain things like the inability to feel sensation or pain. And so a lot of studies and experiments were done on black women in slave hospitals, without anesthesia.


On the future of medical care for birth…

What does the future of medicine look like? What does inclusivity in medicine look like and maternal health? How do we repair the system if not just completely dismantle it and build it over again? How do we imagine birth outside of the hospital? I think that’s a huge piece that I would like to see – more out of hospital birth options for people, including home births, birth centers and standalone maternity care centers. I think this is really important because as we’ve seen in COVID-19, our medical system is under duress, is overstretched and extended, and cannot accommodate people who are healthy and low-risk, and are coming in for birth.


On what a doula actually is…

During pregnancy and birth, it’s a person who is being a non-judgmental presence of support and who is carrying through that journey, and helping you as you navigate this process and postpartum. Someone who is helping you to figure out how to configure your life, how to figure out systems so that when they leave, that you’re set up and you can meet the demands of new motherhood and parenting.


On how the role of a doula connects us back to our village…

It is like a role that just was part of our village, village wisdom keepers, but now we don’t function in that same way. So this is a way to protect the birth village by having someone who is connected to some of our traditions ancestrally, who will bring back that energy and help people to anchor in a process that’s so deeply moving, transformational and that really impacts their life in such a meaningful way.


On what birth means for a mother…

If you think about what happens when the baby arrives here, they are born but the mother is also born. And it’s a rebirth for that person. Who she once was is no longer; she’s someone new.


On mothers and postpartum vulnerability…

They are people who are so vulnerable, that when the babies are here, when they don’t get the same amount of attention that you give to a baby, when they don’t get swaddled with love, when they don’t get fed and washed and hugged, and they don’t get sleep, and they’re not hydrated, and people aren’t checking in on them, they don’t thrive.


On consent in the medical system…

For you to be able to provide consent, you need information. And so, informed consent really means that prior to a procedure that you have all information on the nature of that procedure, the risks, the benefits, and the alternatives, prior to the procedure even taking place. And so that has to happen before you can give consent.


On parenting a Black teen…

I’m really committed to my son not living in fear, especially in a time like this when we see Black people being murdered, and by the hands of the police and state-sanctioned violence that is happening constantly. I’m in this sort of space where I’m learning as I go. He’s 16. That’s the only teenager I’ve ever had. And so I’m sort of figuring it out. What I’ve found is that, I have to trust him and I have to trust that our village has taught him things that he needs to know, so that he can be a good human being when he goes out in the world, an informed human being.

Image: Yumi Matsuo for Lingua Franca

Go to mamaglow.com


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