scroll down

a note from the editor

Whoever you are, wherever you are, welcome. I’m so grateful you are here.

As I thought about what I wanted to say to begin the second issue of Everyday Birth Magazine, I kept thinking of my own mother.

So I called her up and I asked her...

What do you remember from when I was born?

“We were at 29 Palms, California, the middle of the desert. We were in our little adobe house, and I remember it was midnight or 1 and contractions started, and we waited...”

What did you do while you waited?

“I don’t remember doing anything special, I think we were in bed! Your dad — he’d get up and go to work early in the morning. We were just up because the contractions were coming. I remember at one point going to the bathroom and I had the bloody show and were like, okay! This is really it. And it was about 4 in the morning when we went to the hospital.

They had me walk around the hospital, because contractions slowed. So they had us walk and I’d hold on to your dad, and contractions would come...

And I know they gave me Demerol at some point. And I was out of it. I remember waking up to push. So I was very drugged — I remember feeling very loopy...

But then once you were born, I think I was very awake. It was weird. I also remember when I woke up, pushing, coming out of the loopy place — I opened my eyes and there were a half dozen residents watching! All these people in there!

And then you were born. You had a little conehead. And a flat nose. And you were perfect.”

What was it like being home with me?

“Scary. Kind of scary. But then, you know, that doesn’t really last long. You gain confidence that that’s your child.

I remember you went through that crying time — I think they say when your nervous system is developing and you just cry and cry and cry. I remember thinking, I don’t know what to do. I think we put you in the car and drove you around.

After a while you get into a rhythm. It just kicks in, the love, the whatever you need. It just happens.”

I thank my mother for carrying me, giving birth to me, and loving me all these years after often. When I look back as far as I can remember, I feel the rhythm she made for me.

She told me once that she never really dreamed about being a mother. She certainly didn’t plan her pregnancy with me. Maybe that’s part of what makes her so amazing to me.

I hope it’s encouraging to you. Your rhythm is in your hands already. Even if you’ve never thought about it before, even if you’re scared. It’s kicking in.

Cheyenne Varner & Carla Varner
Executive Editor & her incredible mother


Click the title to go to that section
The Beauty of Our Culture & How We Rise
Our histories and our ceremonies are beautiful, purposeful and resilient.
For Your Womb
Common womb questions answered.
Home, Birth Center, and Hospital Birth
An intro to what option fits you and stories from three parents.
A Labor Playlist
Toss this in your bag before you jump in the car.
Birth Behind the Lens
Lessons about birth shared by a birth photographer.
Preparing Your Postpartum Home
Helpful things to have and where to put them.
A Meal for Postpartum
Shared by a postpartum parent.
Drinks for Postpartum
Shared by a postpartum parent.
Postpartum Reflections
With Leata-Mae and Iah Afeni
It Takes a Village to Support a Parent
What this counselor’s own postpartum journey taught her.
Babywearing 101
Where it comes from and how it transformed two teen parents’ experience.

The Beauty of Our Culture
& How We Rise

jade chiu
Working as a Navajo Nurse-Midwife for the last 7 years I have attended my fair share of health conferences that boast slogans of “healing” and “wellness,” but fall short by focusing more on the dire infant and maternal health statistics of Native American and Indigenous people. I once asked a planning committee why they focused so much on that instead of, for example, collaborative wellness frameworks that have been developed from indigenous space. Their answer… they “wanted doctors attending to stay until the end.”

It’s clear that the way we speak about our communities’ health matters. And it’s important to know who controls the narrative and what Native American and Indigenous health is being measured against. It’s understandable the death and dying picture is what makes the front page, but these features only touch the surface of the issues that lead to our dire preventable outcomes.

Last year I was asked to speak at the March for Mom’s rally in Washington, D. C.  I was excited to finally have the opportunity to share about Native American maternal health with a larger audience. Imagine my disappointment when I was only given 10 minutes to talk about all the nuances and complexities of our health care system, all of which directly impact how and where Native American women access care. Only 10 minutes to talk about why our health outcomes are so dire. Only 10 minutes to explain the connections between the health of our land and the health of the women. Only 10 minutes to explain the impact colonialism has had on how we see ourselves as mothers and women. Only 10 minutes...

I left that rally with new focus and understanding. The audience I wanted to engage with was not necessarily in Washington, D. C., but in my own community, where the revitalization of women’s ceremonies around birth, puberty, and mothering was still being fought for.
The beauty of Indigenous ancestral teachings around body autonomy, relationships to the land, relationships in general, convey the message that we are a part of a larger ecosystem dependent on respect, balance, harmony, and bi-directional sharing.
Western medicine may not understand the impact of restoring our ceremonies, but it is paramount to bringing wellness and healing back on our terms. The beauty of Indigenous ancestral teachings around body autonomy, relationships to the land, relationships in general, convey the message that we are part of a larger ecosystem dependent on respect, balance, harmony, and bi-directional sharing.

The hierarchy of western medicine belittles our existence to the point where we feel powerless, where we do believe we are sick and unable to help ourselves. To the point that measuring how many of us are dying is the only viable measure of our health and wellness, but does not highlight the important work happening individually or collectively to heal.

Over the last few years I have traveled to Indigenous communities in Canada, Guatemala and parts of the United States where I have seen first hand revitalization happening. Each person I work with as a Nurse-Midwife is fighting gender, social, political, economic, reproductive norms set forth by collective systems that do not center them as individuals. The wellness framework I see resisting the current day narrative of death and dying by preventable causes is the same force a woman uses to push her baby out. It’s the same force women all over the world use to provide for their children by all means possible. Mothers and babies have always been used to shape our nations, because they are measure of life, that which gives us a glimpse into the health of their communities. That power to rise has always been in all of us. We cannot forget that too is in our DNA.
by nicolle gonzales

illustrations by
virginia strobach

For Your Womb

Answers from an herbalist and womb wellness practitioner

Why do some people get more yeast infections than others?
There are a wide range of reasons why people get yeast infections. The vagina is delicate and quite sensitive. Our vaginas respond to the medicines we take, the foods we eat, as well as our feelings. Diet and emotions should be taken into consideration when evaluating the cause of yeast infections. Change in diet or drinks containing alcohol can bring on a yeast infection. Sometimes sexual relations can bring on yeast from semen. Semen is high in alkaline which can raise the vaginal pH level. Not everyone has a reaction from their partner’s semen, but many do.

Here are some conditions that often cause yeast infections: Poor diet, emotional stress, hormonal changes (menopause, pregnancy), vaginal irritations, excessive douching, birth control pills, hormone pills, rough sex, overall physical weakness, antibiotics, and other medications.
What herbs are considered safe to take during my pregnancy?
During pregnancy herbs that are considered food or tonic herbs are generally safe to use. Some examples are: Nettle, Alfalfa, Dandelion Leaf & Root, Red Raspberry Leaf, Oat Straw and Chamomile.

Avoid any herb that is used during menstruation to stimulate the menstrual cycle. These types of herbs can cause premature contractions of the uterus. Examples are these herbs would include but are not limited to: Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh, Motherwort, Penn Royal Leaf, and Yarrow. Dong Quai is also not recommended during pregnancy because it’s used to regulate and/or stimulate the menstrual cycle.

Avoid herbs that are high in alkaloids and that have a strong medicinal action on the body both internally and externally. It is best to use milder tonic herbs during pregnancy.

Don’t use herbs during pregnancy that you are unfamiliar with. Research well and consult with a trained herbalist.

Some of my favorite herbs that I used safely during my pregnancy were: Blessed Thistle, Burdock Root, Chamomile Flowers, Dandelion Leaf & Root, Ginger Root, Nettle Leaf, and Red Raspberry Leaf. Organic Herbs and/or ethically harvested wildcrafted herbs should be highly considered when obtaining or purchasing.

All this said, remember to always consult with your obstetrician before taking any medications or natural remedies, and to consult with a trained and professional herbalist about the herbs you use. The information here is for your education and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We have professionals for a reason!
Is it true that vaginal steaming can be helpful to postpartum parent after pregnancy?
Vaginal Steaming, also known as Yoni steaming, Bajos, Chai Yok, Hip Bath, Pelvic Bath is the ancient and universal practice that supports womb care and womb wellness. This practice is shared by people of many cultures and in various countries. Vaginal steaming is a natural form of hydrotherapy, utilizing an herbal infusion of medicinal plants and water. Your vaginal steam sessions should be facilitated by certified vaginal steam practitioners, midwives and doulas. It also just as important to confirm that your practitioner has extensive knowledge of the medicinal plants that are being used for your session.

Postpartum steaming is practiced in many countries to support a new parent in healing. There are many midwives and doulas that have added this form of hydrotherapy to their practice here in the U.S. It is used as a therapy to speed the healing process after childbirth. It helps to reduce swelling of the uterus, helps to tighten the pelvic floor muscles, can reduce excessive vaginal discharge. Assist in perineal tears and scar tissue such as adhesion from c-sections. It is also helpful in the case of uterine prolapse. The herbal steam provides circulation throughout the cervix which can help with passing of blood clots and is helpful for hemorrhoids.

When considering vaginal steaming for your postpartum recovery, it is best to consult with a certified vaginal steam practitioner. By doing so, you will receive a womb wellness protocol specifically for your postpartum healing.
by unique hutchinson
birth affirmations
“Birth is a very primal and inner reflective experience... a culmination of everything that you’re made up of inside and out...”
Brittany "Tru" Kellman,
A Black Woman's Guide to Home Birth

Birth is physical and mental and spiritual.

Take time during your pregnancy to voice
your needs, desires, excitements, and fears to
your support team. Receive encouragement.
Find answers. Discover the words you know
you’ll want to speak and hear during labor.
Put them inside designs you’ve found. Or
make your own.

Whatever makes you feel affirmed.
kimie james
A Birth Affirmation
People all over the world
are giving birth to their babies
with me.
jamie thrower
A Birth Affirmation
I am strong.
My body is strong.
My baby is strong.
mallory jackson

home, birth center,
and hospital birth

a brief intro to what fits you

Does this fit me?
Those who choose home birth often trust their knowledge of their body and health needs, and may even feel uncomfortable with the traditional medical system and hospitals due to histories of racist and unjust practices.
What do I need?
A home birth kit. This usually includes basic supplies like chux pads, gloves, gauze, lubricating gel, bulb syringe, cord clamps, peri bottle, cleansing solution, and alcohol prep pads, among other items suggested by the Midwife.
Can I afford it?
Home birth expenses are often paid out of pocket and provide for the Midwife, Midwife’s Assistant, and any necessary supplies as dictated by the Midwife. Costs range from $1,500-$3,000.*
birth center
Does this fit me?
Those who choose a birth center may be seeking a positive balance between birthing at home and birthing in a hospital. The birthing person likely wants a collaborative partnership and nurturing relationship with their Midwife, and is engaged in the decision-making process of their care.
What do I need?
An overnight bag with basic toiletries, and snacks or drinks, if desired.
Can I afford it?
Costs are different based on where you live and what’s available. On average, the cost ranges from $3,000-$6,800; some insurance companies may cover a portion of the expenses.**
Does this fit me?
Many people give birth in the hospital because they trust the traditional medical system as the authority on pregnancy and childbirth, have what’s considered a high-risk pregnancy, or want to go where their Midwife or OB always attends births.
What do I need?
Hospital pre-registration paperwork, your insurance card, your ID, and baby’s car seat installed. A hospital bag packed with basic 2-3 days of overnight toiletries, and other items to make the space comfortable.
Can I afford it?
The national median cost of a childbirth hospital stay was $13,524 in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but most expenses for the birthing person and newborn are covered by health insurance if in network.
*These are estimates based on national averages. Exact costs vary depending upon the care provider.
**These are estimates based on national averages. Exact costs vary depending upon the care provider and individual insurance coverage.
kenya fairley
WANT MORE? REAd the full breakdown


home birth


emerald's story
“My first labor and delivery lasted 32 hours. I labored for 29 hours before receiving an epidural for the last 3 hours of labor. My intention was to have an unmedicated birth and everyone around me was made aware of that. I remember feeling a lack of validation and not having the most favorable experience.

After our first birth, we decided to enlist the help of a midwife at a free-standing birth center. We believed that since the atmosphere and provider aligned more with our views, hopefully our birth outcome would mirror our vision. We thoroughly enjoyed our 2nd and 3rd birth experiences using the birth center and quickly realized how important midwifery care was to us.

Since my 2nd and 3rd labors and deliveries were only two and five hours long, we decided that if we ever had more children, we would deliver at home. Our labors were like a mad dash down the highway hoping to make it in time, which proved to be very stressful in the end. We liked the idea of receiving midwifery care in the comfort of our own home and bringing our baby earth side surrounded by his or her siblings without having to leave for care.

Our fourth baby was born at home after only 3 hours of active labor. I was able to lie in my bed, shower and relax without having to focus on leaving the home during contractions in order to beat rush hour traffic. It was a very calming and carefree environment, which made our daughter’s transition into my arms very peaceful. She was born in the water in our living room and after we were both cleaned up, I was able to nap with her in my bed while my mother made me a bowl of soup.

Our home birth experience allowed me to embrace being present during labor and delivery. There was no deadline for baby’s arrival, beeping sounds of machines taking vitals or feeling as though I was “on the clock” and that staff needed to change in order to accommodate me. My baby and I were always top priority. I would implore more mothers to research home birthing options in their area. Home birth for my family was an organic transition after being in both the hospital and birth center, but I believe that first time mothers will benefit greatly from home birth midwifery care and that it should not be the last resort once other birth outcomes do not align with your birth plan.”
Emerald, 29
Raleigh, NC
photographer: amanda ditzel


birth center


tanzi's story
“On July 11th, we went in for a routine appointment.  I was 40 weeks 4 days. I got checked for dilation and learned I was a 4. My midwife stretched me to a 5 and I was told to start the cotton root tincture after my ultrasound. After she stretched me, I started having contractions.

Around 6pm I felt a little more uncomfortable and just wanted to labor a while in my tub at home. I was able to eat dinner and watch a few shows before my contractions started coming every 7 mins lasting for 30-45 seconds.

I decided to go for a walk around my neighborhood.  I made it down one street before I told my husband that I needed to get back to the house. Inside, I made sure I had everything I wanted to take the birth center. Around 10:40pm I told my husband I was ready to go.

When we made it to the birth center, greeted by my midwives Randi and Heather, it was around 11:30 and my contractions were five minutes apart exactly.  

For maybe the first hour and half, I was laughing with my doula Darlene and birth photographer, even singing along to my birth playlist. That tub was everything! Eventually things got more intense. It seemed like I couldn’t find comfort anywhere and I labored in almost every room.

There came a time where I didn’t think I was gonna be able to give birth at the birthing center. I was in pain, angry, and felt like I was against all odds. I told them to call the hospital and let me go.

My husband knew I didn’t want that and just told everyone to let me say and labor the way I needed. He had all the faith in me and I’m so grateful everyone listened to him. As for me I would’ve ran out the door if they let me.

I went from 8 centimeters to a 9 in a matter of 45 mins. Everyone wanted me to get back into the tub and luckily I did. It felt great all for a little while until one of my contractions literally made me jump out.

I yelled and screamed I couldn’t do it anymore and before I knew it, I jumped on the bed on all fours and my water broke. Ronan was coming and I had no choice but to accept it. I screamed my child right into my husband’s hands three hours after arriving to the birth center.

I’m so grateful for everyone who helped make this birth possible. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”
Tanzi, 26
Leander, TX
photographer: emma reaves


hospital birth


jasmine's story
“I arrived at the hospital at around 1 am the day after my due date, after my water broke, but before contractions. My plan was to return home after being checked so I could labor in the comfort of my home. I worried the hospital policy wouldn’t let me eat during labor and the doctors would be impersonable and ignorant to my choices and preferences.  After consulting with the on-call doctor, she recommended that I stay at the hospital to avoid infection and shared that I could eat during early labor.

The nurses and the doctors I worked with were, for the most part, receptive to my preferences for allowing the labor to progress on its own. Me, my fiancé, and my laboring team worked through labor for about 20 hours until I decided to receive pain medication and later an epidural. My labor progressed on its own time and after a tumultuous experience of working through contractions, waiting, closely monitoring my and baby’s heart rates, and avoiding infection, we welcomed a baby girl via cesarean.

My surgery and recovery was not as daunting as some have described it to be. Our hospital used a pass through process so that we could do skin to skin immediately following her birth.  The nurses supporting us in the operation room actually helped put baby inside the top of my gown. Our baby was with us the entire time and as they wheeled us back to our room.

What I remember most is all the love and comfort I received from my fiancé, doula, mother and mother-in-law. I couldn’t have chosen a better group to help me through my long labor. They were there to massage my back and hold my hand throughout the experience and I am so grateful for them. I remember being terrified after receiving my epidural because both mine and my baby’s heart rates were fluctuating. In those moments, I questioned my decision to choose medication and the hospital. I could hear my inner voice say, ‘This is why you should’ve went another direction.’ At one point, I had so much medication running through my body and I was still extremely uncomfortable.

We chose a hospital because it felt safest in the case of an emergency and gave us peace of mind. Although there were certain things I did not care for, my overall experience was positive. If or when we have another baby, we will revisit our options and possibly choose another path but it’s really hard to say! I’d encourage other parents to do what feels the most comfortable to them.”
Jasmine, 26
Richmond, VA
photographer: cheyenne varner
jamie thrower

A Labor Playlist

made for you

Sound plays a role in labor, from the voices, to the melodies, to the quiet that surround us...

When you choose a birth playlist, you’re  setting the tone and mood for everyone to carry at your birth, and you’re setting the mood that your baby will be born into.

I believe the music you choose helps transform your experience into a uniquely personal one. I picked the songs listed below because they have good vibes, fitting for the time when someone is becoming a parent and when that parent greets their child.

by emerald ortiz

Birth and Postpartum Stories

as told by care providers

A Mother’s Choice Midwifery,
Demetra Seriki
“All of my clients receive a red magnet with our phone number that says ‘when to call the Midwife.’ I remember our labor hotline ringing and when I answered
I heard the expecting dad’s voice say, ‘Mimi, we have a 511!’ What that means is, contractions are every five minutes, lasting 60 seconds or longer for at least one hour. He was so calm. And when we arrived for a labor check he was so present.
Not only did he use the appropriate language to communicate labor was underway he also caught his first born under my watchful eye.”

Ob Hospitalist,
Dr. Nicole Rankins
“I remember once caring for a patient who had to be induced because of high blood pressure. After two days of induction, her cervix was still 1 cm dilated.
She was offered a cesarean at that point but declined. She really wanted a vaginal delivery!
Both mom and baby were doing great so we pressed on. Well the next day she had a beautiful vaginal delivery of a perfect baby girl! Everyone - the family, the nurses, and myself - was so happy for her! And most importantly she was happy and so proud of herself for hanging in there!”

Well Nest RVA,
Lauren Collins, LCSW
“A client once shared with me that she felt like a failure because her birth did not go as planned. We were able to spend time together reframing this narrative, acknowledging that she tried with everything that she had, that she sacrificed her birth wishes for the safety of her baby, that she chose a provider she could trust who did not steer her wrong and ended up being 100% clinically accurate in the need for surgical birth, that her intuition to trust saved her baby’s life.
She went from being disappointed in herself to in awe of herself with a simple paradigm shift, and got to feel the pride and power that every birthing person deserves to feel
for bringing a baby into this world, no matter the method.”


Kinds of Providers

the basics

Whether Nurse-Midwives, Professional Midwives or Traditional Midwives, generally, midwifery care looks at birth as a natural process that doesn’t need any or much intervention, and spends a lot of time with parents on individualized care.
Obstetrician/Gynecologists, or OBGYNs, are specially trained to handle birth complications. Their care tends to involve more monitoring and interventions when labor doesn’t go as expected. Because of this, their care is best for high-risk pregnancy and birth.
family physicians
Family physicians are trained to care for whole families, and some include birth services. They often have deep, trusting relationships with patients, and are equipped for low-risk pregnancy and birth.
Mental health therapists are trained to help patients and their families work through mental and emotional issues including stress, anxiety, bonding, depression, psychosis and more. Asking one for help is not a sign of weakness.

Birth Behind the Lens

Lessons from a birth photographer

chinelle rojas

“The amazing thing about being a birth photographer is all the knowledge I’ve soaked up being immersed in the birth community. Here’s what I’ve learned...”
the racial gap is real
There is a huge racial gap in the types of births Black people of color are pursuing and who we are hiring to help us through them. I find that the families that more often hire me and/or a doula, or who choose to birth at home or a birth center don’t look like I do. I don’t throw shade on either end of the spectrum, but I think the lack of representation of our people in the birth community plays a huge role in this cycle. If don’t see ourselves doing these things, then we are less likely to see them as an option, so we won’t use them.
advocates matter
When different medical situations arise during labor and delivery and there is no doula, I find I’m turned to as an advocate and advisor for my clients. Some questions I’m able to answer as a birth photographer. Sometimes I can help them understand what’s happening and what options they have. I never give unsolicited advice or information during a birth – but if I’m asked and I can answer, I do.
birthing people can do the extraordinary
We as birthing people are capable of extraordinary things. The entire process of birth is divine and awe-inspiring. I’ve learned to trust my own body to do what it is meant to and not to be afraid of the “pains” of birth. I only wish I had this inspiration before having my own children, because I would have been more likely to approach their births with a mindset of empowerment.
how to afford
birth photography

Most experienced birth photographers start their packages close to or over $1000. So what do you do if you’d like this investment, but it’s not in the budget?

Add birth photography to your baby shower registry.
Some birth photographers will create a custom registry link just for you to help you cover the cost of their service

Ask if they offer a payment plan.
You'll be glad to know that most do.

What skills can you offer that they can benefit from?
by chinelle rojas

Finding the right photographer for you

tip #1
Make sure you click with your photographer and can imagine them being an asset during your labor, not a hinderance. This person will be with your during one of the most intimate and vulnerable times of your life
tip #2
Make sure that you’ve seen their whole portfolio and you understand and like their style of shooting and editing.
tip #1
Make sure they have
It’s very important to know that barring any “acts of God”, your birth photographer will be at your birth. Or if they can’t make it, that they have a qualified backup to cover them.

Preparing your Postpartum Home

You labored your little one into the world and now you're home. What do you need around you?
In the kitchen
On your counter there should be healthy (!) snacks, ready to be grabbed by birthing parent and partner.
a pot of water
A pot of water or full kettle ready to boil, whether you need it for warming up bottles, cleaning bottles, or sterilizing water. Having it ready now saves time later!
a list of important contacts
A list of important contact numbers in a place of plain view. Not just poison control and baby’s pediatrician but also the birthing parents care providers, a local maternal mental health therapist, your local pharmacy and insurance provider.
sound and music
Whether you use a speaker, your phone, your computer or something else — make the time you spend in the kitchen washing or prepping bottles or milk storage bags a little more enjoyable by catching up on an audio book or the latest album while you do it.
In the bedroom
a basket for baby care
A basket or tub filled with baby’s immediate needs: diapers, wipes, change of clothes for baby, bottle with formula ready to mix, if formula feeding, extra pacifiers, etc.

It might be a warm, soft chair, or the classic rocking chair. A comfortable place to sit makes feeding time a breeze and you and baby might just rock off into Lala Land together.
portable baby care items
A pack and play makes access to your baby easy when you want to relax but still be close. And you can pick it up (without baby in it, of course) and take it to the living room if you’d rather be there.

A portable diaper changing caddy is a lifesaver, too, because honestly who changes their little one at the changing table every time?
things to keep you occupied
While freedom of movement is great, feel encouraged to keep your bedroom as home base. A good vibes playlist, books to read, coloring books to color, religious text, positive affirmations from friends, or baby shower cards — have whatever will help you stay in bed and rest nearby.
In the bathroom
things that keep it clean
Cleanliness is important and postpartum can have it’s share of messes. Have disinfectant wipes in reach for quick cleans. Note for friends and family: Offer (or just do it!) to clean the bathroom for the pregnant person in your life while they’re in labor so they can come home to a clean, fresh space.
things that make going more comfortable
It’s no secret that using the bathroom after birth can be a struggle. A hot water bottle or a peri bottle (squirt bottle) with warm water or an herbal blend are examples of good comfort measures to have on hand.
a basket for bathroom care
On a shelf nearby, or on the back of the toilet, keep a box or basket of items you’re likely to need when you’re there, like pads, witch hazel, ointments, creams, soaps, hemorrhoid medication, your hot water bottle or peri bottle, extra diapers and wipes. Keeping it all together helps you always know where it is; you don’t have to go around the room searching.
items for bath care
First, talk to your care provider about when to start taking baths again. Epsom salt soaks or baths encourage healing, fight infection, and reduce swelling. Herbal baths have a similar effect. Leave the bubbles or oils out, unless it’s been okayed by your provider.
by keisha graham
and nikiya ellis

Postpartum Reflections

with Leata-Mae and Iah Afeni

Like so many of us, Leata-Mae took to social media to share raw and honest reflections on her journey with pregnancy and postpartum. Here’s more.
what did you expect postpartum to be like, mind, body, and more?
I knew it would be an emotional rollercoaster, that I’d be tired, and that the birth journey would have an impact on it. I didn’t want to have a fixed idea but I think I expected postpartum to be a little — maybe smoother, than it was.
what’s it really like?
A trip!! Just healing would be enough but you are doing that at the same time as getting to know this tiny human who depends solely on you for their existence. There’s pressure to feed baby and yourself. Just as you change a diaper you have to change it again. Your hormones and emotions are all over the place and you don’t have time to process or rest.

It’s tough, but it’s the beginning of such a beautiful time. You get a new best friend that you love so much you feel like you might burst. Each day there’s something new to discover about them... and yourself too. With each day that comes you find more of a rhythm and it becomes a little easier to go with the flow.
how did you prepare for postpartum?
I made sure to put the same kind of effort into a postpartum plan that I did for a birth plan. So I had a list of preferences that felt good to me but also were flexible.

I pre-made food to be kept in the freezer and then used as and when I needed. I pre-made things like nipple balm and postpartum teas — one for ‘baby blues’ and one for lactation. I had essential oils, red raspberry tincture, big panties and magnesium bath flakes... I also had open discussions with people who would be around during this time.

what was most useful during postpartum?
My mum! She was essentially my Doula. She made sure I was fed and watered, reminded me to sleep, held and changed Iah all the time, and even held me when I needed her to!

I was also quite firm with my boundaries. I didn’t have visitors for the first couple weeks and then two max per week after. I didn’t call or text much either. I stayed in bed for the first 10 days or so, which is a little harder then it sounds because you feel like you should be up and doing things but it really helped to just be in the moment and rest.
by leata-mae d’avoine

It Takes a Village
to Support a Parent

caring for postpartum mental health

Cultures all over the world welcome the postpartum period in different ways. In France, it is common for new mothers to have a pelvic floor physical therapy consultation prior to leaving the hospital, followed by routine pelvic floor physical therapy throughout the recovery period.

Cultures that honor pregnancy and the postpartum period assist with the tangible tasks that come with the addition of a baby to a family, encourage the strengthening of the partnership bond between parents, when appropriate, and openly discuss both the joys and challenges that birthing people face. Unfortunately experiencing this is the exception now, not the norm.

I am a therapist of color with specialized training in postpartum mood and anxiety disorders and a birth doula. I also happen to be a woman who found herself short one dessert plate after a dinner party I hosted at my house shortly after the birth of my youngest daughter.

You see, the birth of my sweet girl, now almost two, was the stuff #birthgoals are made of. A beautiful doula-attended, midwife-assisted birth with ambient lighting, my partner by my side, and a playlist cultivated just for the occasion. And yet, two weeks later, the tears that had begun to flow for no discernable reason about 24 hours after her birth had morphed into a rage that, one day, sent a dessert plate flying out of my hand and onto my kitchen wall.

My socioeconomic status, my education, my training as a therapist, my husband, my family; none of it protected me from the most common pregnancy complication in the world, postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. This complication looms tall in the face of the most commonly noted tendencies in Western Culture, which contributes to our ever-rising rates of mothers who report crippling levels of sadness, feeling overwhelmed, and disenchanted by motherhood: our individualistic society. The pressure to have it all, to do it all, to be it all. Ideas that run completely counter to the needs of postpartum parents and their families. The drive to be “Insta-perfect” and “Insta-ready” at all times. The myth that social media only perpetuates that it’s just you; everyone else is doing it beautifully, easily, flawlessly. Why aren’t you?

There are so many potential challenges in the postpartum period that parents face, under the best of circumstances. The need to heal, the need to sleep, the need to grieve. How could we expect a society to care for the mind of a postpartum parent when we don’t even value and respect the super human feat that they have just conquered with their body? How’s the weight loss going? Are you back to working out, cooking, cleaning? When’s the next one? Are you back at work yet?
A beautiful doula-attended, midwife-assisted birth with ambient lighting, my partner by my side, and a playlist cultivated just for the occasion. And yet, two weeks later, the tears that had begun to flow for no discernable reason about 24 hours after her birth had morphed into a rage that, one day, sent a dessert plate flying out of my hand and onto my kitchen wall.
The mind, raw with experience and hormones, shaped by every moment that has come before, delicate and open, often lays ignored. Depression. Anxiety. Rage. Tears. More tears. Thoughts which invade our peace and make us questions our own ability to function. Might I somehow accidentally throw the baby over the bridge if I get too close? If I take my eyes off the baby for one second, something horrible will happen. Is this a postpartum mood disorder? Do other people go through this? How could we look for the signs of struggle or postnatal decompensation in ourselves and the folks we love, when we aren’t taught anything about what to expect from birth and the postpartum period when we are stuck birthing, healing, and parenting in a culture that most often leaves us afraid to ask?

The answer to darkness is most always light. It’s education. It’s the bravery and honesty required to not participate in the “Insta-Culture” and the shame it represents that’s killing us all. It’s providers trained to care, to ask, to treat. It’s communities prepared to act, to love, to help. It’s systems that are aware of and care about the nuances of identity and the way they impact both illness and wellness. It’s parents empowered to speak up, to ask, to demand.

What started out as my dream to be a therapist and doula was shaped by my experiences as a mother of color who found that postpartum depression was meant to be a part of the journey that has been the wild and beautiful ride called motherhood. Whether it’s therapy, a birth, or a Sister Circle, I am striving without ceasing to be a voice, an ear, and a member of what I hope continues to be an ever-growing community. For you, for my girls, for myself.

I’ve still not replaced that dessert plate. I’ve thought about it, shopped around even. Nothing yet has felt quite right. I kind of appreciate how the shortage reminds me of where I’ve been, where I am, and where I hope to go.
by lauren collins, lcsw

Babywearing 101

holding our babies close

Twelve years ago I was a teen mom. I was 16 and now I had this brand new baby. Her life was in my hands. She’d cry. I’d panic. “What do I do? What does she want?”
holding her close
I had so many things to do. I began to feel overwhelmed. I felt the baby blues coming in heavy. My mom gave me a baby Bjorn. I knew I wanted a carrier but I wasn’t sure how I would afford one. It didn’t seem like a necessity. My mind immediately changed when I strapped the carrier to my body. The sway of my body put her right to sleep. The room felt calm. My anxiety went down and then I realized.... I was hands free!  

Just that day I accomplished so much. I was able to do dishes, cook, and finish my essay for school. I also noticed my mood changed. I wasn’t crying as much, I felt happiness. It felt like the world was opening up to so many possibilities. I finished high school two years ahead of schedule.
an uncommon story
Babywearing has helped families all over the world hold their babies and get things done. It’s an ancient practice of holding your baby with a cloth in order to continue to live life. It also has been credited with helping non-birth parents bond with their babies. Adopted families regularly use babywearing for this reason. In circumstances where chestfeeding isn’t possible Babywearing can be used to fill in for that bonding, too.
what babywearing does
The act of holding your baby promotes oxytocin. It is called the bonding hormone. It’s a chemical messenger released in the brain  in response to social contact, but its release is especially pronounced with skin-to-skin contact. It promotes bonding and creates the desire for more hugging, holding, and loving. It’s recommended to wear naked baby on your topless chest for the first 6 weeks for that skin to skin. Babywearing allow parents to do that hands free and mobile if they choose to.
Babywearing also assists in the production of prolactin, which promotes milk in the nursing parent. When the baby is close to the breast, it sends the body messages of “I’m here and I’m close. Give me milk.”

Never forget the most important part of Babywearing: bonding with your baby. This is a short time in your life. The beginning of a beautiful relationship. Let’s get back to our ancestral roots and create some magic.

tip #1
Most wraps accommodate children up to 40 pounds. That’s about the size of a 3 year old. Although toddlers are mobile, toddler wearing has benefits too! Like when they have a meltdown in aisle three. And there’s always a certain security to being held close by a loved one.

tip #2
There are numerous types of carriers with different finishes and patterns for you or your partner to choose from. My husband, Michael, regularly teaches support partners the importance of babywearing, too. You are important! You are needed.

tip #3
Babywearing can be expensive. We were gifted a carrier and a wrap with our babies. Then our parenting support group shared a Babywearing meet-up club, where for $30 a month, we got education and wraps to borrow. Ask around if anything like that is near you!

by diamond redden


When I first started baby wearing I didn't like it. It seemed so complicated. I was lost in the fancy finishes and different thread contents. I was the 1st in my generation of my family to baby wear. My wife was the first person I saw use fabric to tie our baby to her body. Watching her sway and seeing our baby calm down triggered something in me. It was worth the effort to learn. The feeling of self doubt, the voice telling me to give up silenced when I saw how my
daughter connected to me. She was sleeping and smiling. When she finally woke up she was smiling at me. That smile warmed my heart. After that I was sold.
That warmth I felt in my heart change my life forever. That feeling is a feeling I wish to hold onto forever.”  

Michael Redden, Diamond’s husband


To become an advertiser, go here.


Cheyenne Varner
Founder & Executive Editor

Founding Team
Sarah Choi, Marketing consultant | Virginia Strobach, illustrator | DeAudrea Rich, photography consultant | Maria Oya X, inclusivity consultant


The beauty of our culture and how we rise
nicolle gonzales

for your womb
Unique Hutchinson

Home, Birth Center, and Hospital Birth: Intro
Kenya Fairley

Home, Birth Center, and Hospital Birth Stories
Emerald Rice; Tanzi King; Jasmine Jackson

A labor playlist
Emerald Ortiz

Birth and Postpartum Stories from Care Providers
Demetra Seriki, BSM, CPM, RM; Dr. Nicole Rankins; Lauren Collins, LCSW

birth behind the lens
Chinelle Rojas

Preparing Your Postpartum Home
Keisha Graham & Nikiya Ellis
A Meal for Postpartum; Drinks for Postpartum; Postpartum Reflections
Leata-Mae D’Avoine

It Takes a Village to Support a Parent
Lauren Collins, LCSW

babywearing 101
Diamond Redden

Cheyenne Varner
cover, 5, 11, 20, 21

Kimie James

pages 6, 13

Leata-Mae D’Avoine
pages 7, 32-36

Jamie Thrower
pages 14, 23

Amanda Ditzel
pages 16, 17

Emma Reaves 
pages 18, 19

Chinelle Rojas
page 26

Jade Chui
page 41

You can submit to contribute to Everyday Birth Magazine by visiting us here online.
everyday birth magazine
is made possible by sponsors and subscribers like you!
Thank you
Tell your friends, your care providers, and your birth professionals where to find us!