4 Digital Birth Stories from Native American Parents

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Story is incredibly powerful. When we don't see the stories of folks like ourselves and our family members, and friends — it's a very isolating feeling. And when we do see and hear these stories, it can feel incredibly centering and encouraging. Changing Woman Initiative collected a variety of digital stories. Enjoy these stories (find more here), and consider these words from the Changing Woman Initiative:


"Throughout history, Native American women’s birth stories have been collected and told through the voice of on-lookers and non-Native historians. Changing Woman Initiative understands the value and power of a woman’s voice, which is why we felt it was important to create an opportunity for Native American women from the 8 Northern Pueblo’s to use their own voice to tell their own birth stories."


Christina M. Castro
"In the summer of 2012, I found out I was expecting my first child. It made me really curious about the tradition of midwifery in our pueblos. Were there Native traditional midwives still practicing? Had it disappeared since my mom's generation? Could we reclaim this sacred knowledge and practice? Although I wasn't able to find a traditional midwife, I knew I wanted to decolonize my labor."

Wendy Littletree
"My next two births were liberating compared to my first birth, especially since I had health insurance... I felt in control and no longer felt cheap and unimportant because I saw consistent medical professionals. I was a stronger woman. When I was 29 years old, I started my labor at home with Sage, my second child. To reduce the pain, I remember leaning against the wall with my palms flat against it and swaying my hips."

Raeann Herrera
"I always wanted to experiment with a water birth. I doubted that I wouldn't be able to find a place or that IHS wouldn't cover a 'luxury birth.' In 2014, since the IHS (Indian Health Service) didn't cover births, I asked Josiah's dad, 'Where are we going to have our baby?'... As I was sitting at home reading the infamous Sante Fe Reporter I saw an ad for a birth center in Santa Fe... I was five months along when I walked into the birth center. I thought, 'Wow! It's beautiful!'... At first I was scared I was going to be rejected because I was borderline for gestational diabetes... I ate right and walked almost everyday. By the third trimester I quit taking my meds because my sugar levels were low or normal... Josiah was born within 30 minutes. I surprised myself because I was expecting the pain to get intense!"

Lilleh Etsitty
"I bought a pregnancy test, Chinese food, and a Redbox. I waited the recommended time of 3-5 minutes and flipped the plastic stick. Positive. I made my first appointment at the local Indian Health Services in Santa Fe. I had to wait six weeks to be seen. I argued with the receptionist about my chart number and I wanted to be seen sooner because it was my first pregnancy... Then I was told to apply for Medicaid... I was only given partial pregnancy services because I made a few hundred dollars more over the poverty line... When I first heard my son's heartbeat, it was steady and loud, like a drum keeping time with a beautiful melody. I left my appointment knowing what I had to do. I picked myself up, and I left the past behind. I changed the path I was headed on. I wanted to be healthy, positive, happy, and I knew that one day, he would be my best friend."