Welcome to the beautiful, blossoming little corner of my life where doula and design work get together and — ah! It's amazing. ☀️ There's something really sweet and funny about the fact that it's been nine months since I began this journey. January 16th, I opened up a little Etsy, with just one product, with very little expectation, and now, September 15th, after nine months of growing and working and editing and illustrating and thinking and receiving feedback — with over 30 items in shop — I feel really ready to just say, "Hey! Look! Look at my beautiful little bundle... of birth educational materials!"
So, yes! Intro! The Educated Birth is a collection of childbirth education materials created to equip parents for well-informed and empowering birth by equipping birth educators and doulas with them. And these past nine months are just the start, for a few very simple, and very meaningful reasons:
1. Education Needs to Be Within Reach to Really Educate Anyone
It's really important that people — and their partners — understand their bodies and their rights when engaging with healthcare during pregnancy and birth. And while there are classes and books all over the place these days, it's not realistic that everyone will be able to access those items. Why? Many reasons, including:
lack of/ limited transportation, heavy work schedule, lack of/ limited time, lack of/ limited money, limited literacy/ language barriers, not knowing where to start/ feeling overwhelmed, discomfort with educational settings/ feeling like one doesn't belong in a space
One of the things that I love about doula work is that doulas can go to the parents on their terms, on their schedule, in space they feel is safe, and even at no cost if the doulas choose to volunteer or are a part of an outside-funded group.
That's why The Educated Birth is created with doulas and other birth workers in mind, rather than with parents as the target audience. Parents are welcome to all of these materials on their own! But it's most accessible if it's provided through a free, and relevant outlet.
And this is why The Educated Birth is created to keep text at about a high-school reading level max, with easy to skim blurbs to introduce parents to concepts that they can dive into more deeply with a doula, care provider or through other kinds of research, like the sources that are always quoted at the bottom. And this is why The Educated Birth will be expanding into other languages, as soon as I can make that happen!
I hope that these pieces can serve as a doorway into the education that parents need to pursue the birth and postpartum that fits them, and to defend them when necessary.
2. We Need More Things That Say, "This Was Made With You in Mind Because You Matter."
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Reproductive health affects everyone:
women, men, non-binary & trans individuals, POC, LGBTQI, immigrants, communities in poverty, faith communities, incarcerated people, youth, disabled individuals, etc.
Yet, in the few materials that I was able to find when I was starting out as a doula, there was very, very limited diversity shown. And this was something that I've heard echoed again and again by others in the birth world.
When I started out, my main concern was showing women of color in my pieces. Throughout the first 14 infographics that conviction definitely shows. But my perspective has been widened since then, thanks to many amazing people who helped me see beyond my initial concern — one that I personally identified with — to other concerns that had never personally occurred to me.
This is why The Educated Birth is committed to using gender neutral language that doesn't assume the reader's self-identification. And this is why as I illustrate for TEB, I will continue to be intentional about showing a variety of ages, cultures, gender expressions, family structures and other lived experiences.
This is truly a journey, and one I'm so grateful to be on. I'm sure there will be many moments in which I go back and make changes and updates because I realize I could have created something better. I welcome that. I need accountability, and I need support. I'm not perfect, and I'm not going to hit the mark every time. I'm very thankful to those who have reached out to me about aspects of diversity that are important to them and I cherish that, so please, feel free anytime.
3. Artwork is Attention-Grabbing, Tone-Changing and Revolutionary
Color draws peoples' attentions, and impacts tone and mood. And if I see a nice illustration that reminds me of myself or my sister or my friend — I'm probably going to take a closer, second look. And I might even share! And I might even read the little two-line description by the image, haha.
So much of the healthcare world comes across as stark and sterile: white walls, tiled floors, waiting rooms, and dreary brochures on a table. Although, even that's beginning to change, as some hospitals realize the power of color and plant-life and making these medical spaces more vibrant and welcoming.
I approach my design style by asking myself, "What kind of images on this topic would empower me? What might help me fight my anxiety as I learn about this experience I'm nervous about? What will make me smile? What feels realistic? Not sugar-coated?"
I pull a lot of my illustration work from styles I see out in the world everyday! And let me just tell you, I LOVE illustrating hair! Ah!
Moreover, there is so much politics to what kind of styles are appropriate, relevant, and beautiful today. Just the very act of showing someone can be a revolutionary statement, a declaration of existence, and an insistence that that existence is both beautiful, relevant and here to stay.
4. This is How I Doula and How I Want to Invest in More Doulas in My City
Let's be completely real. Just like there are many reasons it can be difficult to get education and support throughout pregnancy and birth as a pregnant and birthing person, there are many reasons it can be difficult to choose birth worker or doula as your job!
I feel so fortunate to be self-employed and have the flexibility to say, "Yes, I can be your doula at no cost," to many families I work with. And honestly, The Educated Birth has been a huge reason why I have been able to do that.
But I don't want The Educated Birth to just be about my own personal doula journey. Already, I've been working with a collective in my city called The Richmond Doula Project. Being able to offer my infographics to other new doulas, and get feedback from others here — you can't put a price on that experience.
BUT. REAL TALK. We've got to make money to open doors for all of our doulas to take time off of other jobs or to pay for childcare.
So this is the part where I am ready to say, I want to keep this ball rolling! I've been so amazing and excited by the amount of sharing that has happened so far just via word-of-mouth, FB groups, and Instagram.
If you can share with your circles, please share! If you have a blog, let's chat about connecting! If you're a part of an organization that could benefit from having some The Educated Birth stuff around, yesssss, let's get on the phone! If you have any other thoughts or ideas, let's connect on those too!