Before, During and after Birth: Representation Matters
Hello, beautiful humans. My name is JaNina, and I am a trained full-spectrum doula. I am currently supporting my community through my own business DoulaMeWright, a local doula agency, Music City Doula, and through a program called Doulas for Everyone, based out of Massachusetts. I have been in birth work for three years now.
Many ask me, “What is a doula?” I’m always so happy to answer. A doula is a trained professional who provides service to birthing bodies through their journey of conception, fertility, birth, postpartum, loss and even end-of-life. There are several types of doulas, including postpartum, loss, death, abortion, sex, and fertility. As a doula, my lived experience has been humbling. It brings me so much joy when a family asks me to support them in their journey. It also saddens me when families reach out because they fear their journey. They’re scared of dying, scared of not being heard or seen, scared of being bullied or forced to do things that do not feel good in/to their bodies. In each instance, I do my best to make each family feel as supported as I can.
From the time of conception, birthing families need, desire, and deserve good support. Bringing a new life into the world should be a magical time in one’s life, but unfortunately that isn’t everyone’s experience. Before, during, or after birth, mental health should be taken very seriously. “Will I be a good parent?”, “Will my child be healthy?”, and “Will I live to see my child grow up?” are just a few things that have been rhetorically asked during my journey with families. During those moments, I hold space for each individual. I’ve learned not to give personal advice, but to refer them to PSI’s support groups or a therapist with training in perinatal mental health to be sure that they are properly supported. It is important to me to be an advocate not only in birth spaces but also in the community I support, ensuring all families receive the perinatal mental health support they deserve.
According to emerging research, those who experienced racism in the year prior to their baby’s delivery experienced significantly higher odds of depression and are at an increased risk for adverse maternal outcomes. Additionally, “stress from racism and racial discrimination during the perinatal period may contribute to maternal morbidity, including perinatal depression, among Black women.” Black doulas serving Black families can help improve maternal health in pregnancy and postpartum, improving outcomes for both mom and baby.
I can’t speak for all, but most would agree that representation matters. As a doula of color, I want my clients to be seen and heard. We want to connect on a deeper level than “just being your doula”. Although I have supported families outside of my race, I still find a way to make a connection. In my experience, clients of color relate better to me, and we connect on a deeper level. Whether it be through music, chats about hair, religion and church, or our experience as a minority, we find a way to bond and instantly become each other’s “bruh” or “sis.” Quoted from a recent article, “Representation allows minorities to feel validated and allows us to express our opinions comfortably. This creates a team environment where ideas are diverse, perspectives are varied and everyone feels valued.”
I believe everyone deserves high quality care, regardless of race, sexual identity, religion, gender identity, income, and other factors that commonly influence one’s health care. I see it as my duty to advocate for the families I serve, and I take pride in doing so. I join others who believe doulas are not made, but born. My innate gifts of caretaking and being emotionally present prepared me to be a doula far before my training. Now, I am excited to combine both as I support mothers, birthing persons and bodies, and the entire family during the vulnerable journey of pregnancy and parenthood.
Birth work has been JaNina Wright’s passion since her teenage years. As the eldest daughter of five siblings, she helped her single mother manage childcare tasks such as bottle feedings, diaper changes, baby stimulation, and many other day-to-day needs. Later, JaNina made an intentional commitment to extend support outside of her own family. She has helped many family members navigate childbirth by providing physical, emotional, spiritual, and educational support.
JaNina is a trained birth doula through Dona International, Blissful Birthing, and she is currently training to become a Maternal Support Practitioner through BeboMia Inc. As a doula, JaNina’s goal is to empower expectant families as they bring new life into the world, and it is her pleasure to offer them empathy, compassion, education, and a sense of peace throughout the birthing process. JaNina is from Nashville, TN where she serves as treasurer on the Postpartum Support International Board-TN and is a member of the Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for People of Color.
Outside of birth work, JaNina is a certified medical assistant, phlebotomist, and patient service specialist in Nashville, TN. She enjoys volunteering for homeless communities, singing, dancing (particularly ballroom and Zumba), and spending quality time with family, friends, and her precious cat, Princess.