‘We wanted to provide a group that supported one another and shared birth stories and learn from other people’s experiences.’
“I’m a licensed massage therapist and was treating a client who just had twins via Cesarean who was having back pain. I was totally shocked by the fact that the only real follow-up for this birth was that she would see her doctor once and she was sent home with babies to lift.
“I learned there’s no postpartum care on the East End. I decided to become a doula to provide emotional and physical support for a birthing person throughout their whole pregnancy and labor process.
“I connected with another doula, and we realized that not just the postpartum was lacking, but support for pregnant women too. We wanted to provide a group that supported one another and shared birth stories and learn from other people’s experiences. That’s how our group birth circle started in 2012.
During the pandemic we created the Stork Co-op, a baby and parent pantry with new and gently used donated supplies.
“Over time, we learned the inequities of birthing and that the maternal mortality rates on the East End are very poor. That launched us into our advocacy efforts. We do a lot of advocacy in terms of maternal mortality and awareness and education, especially for the Shinnecock and the historic Black community here.
“Out here, you need a car to go everywhere, so getting to and from doctors appointments can be hard, and the two birthing hospitals are an hour away [ in Stony Brook and Bay Shore]. For people who are low risk, we’re educating them about midwifery and doula services and offering them support during pregnancy and birth.
“Having a community when you’re going through this life-changing experience is important. We incorporate supporting the mom as much as the baby.
“During the pandemic we created the Stork Co-op, a baby and parent pantry with new and gently used donated supplies; everything from baby bottles to infant care to maternity care to postpartum.
“We distribute them to our local year-round community we know is confronted by these access issues. We’ve also done educational presentations with local practitioners. We’ve helped hundreds of women. I didn’t think I would be doing this, but I felt like I needed to because nobody else was.
“In the past five years, there’s a national recognition of the maternal mortality rates. There are now groups and organizations across Long Island that are focusing on these topics and trying to improve the situation.”
Interviewed by Liza Burby