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On today’s podcast, we talk to Marnellie Bishop about life as a birth/postpartum doula and childbirth educator and the importance of cultural awareness in birth work.

Marnellie Bishop (she/her) is a certified birth and postpartum doula and childbirth educator. Marnellie has additional training as an Evidence Based Birth®  Instructor and Hypnobabies Hypno-Doula. Serving the Portland, Oregon community, Marnellie takes on the role as a board member and director of finance and operations at Community Doula Alliance.

Prior to pursuing her passion to support families in their perinatal journey, Marnellie completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration and used her degree to help grow and sell her family’s printing company. As a second-generation immigrant to Filipino parents, Marnellie understands the intersectionality that many immigrant families face when it comes to identifying their parenting styles through the lens of their cultural background and today’s parenting values.

We will talk about Marnellie’s journey to becoming a birth and postpartum doula as well as an EBB Instructor after being inspired by personally supporting the birthing needs of her friends. We also talk about the obstacles Marnellie faced and overcame as a birth and postpartum doula while amplifying the importance of respecting cultural traditions and customs when serving immigrant families or families who speak English as a second language in Portland, Oregon. 

Content warning: We mention COVID-19, the murder of George Floyd, systemic oppression, Cesarean, and birthing complications such as late-term loss and preeclampsia.

Resources
Learn more about Marnellie Bishop and Hanau Doula here (https://hanaudoula.com/). Follow Marnellie on Instagram here (https://www.instagram.com/hanaudoula). 

Learn more about Community Doula Alliance here (https://communitydoulaalliance.com/). Follow Community Doula Alliance on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/communitydoulaalliance) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/communitydoulaalliance/). 

Learn more about Hypnobabies® here (https://www.hypnobabies.com/). 

Learn more about Oregon Health Authority here (https://www.oregon.gov/oha/Pages/index.aspx). 

Learn more about Wall of Moms here (https://www.npr.org/2020/07/28/896174019/what-the-wall-of-moms-protests-say-about-motherhood-race-in-america). 

Learn more about Black Lives Matter here (https://blacklivesmatter.com/).

Transcript
Rebecca Dekker: Hi, everyone. On today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with Marnellie Bishop about life as a birth and postpartum doula and childbirth educator. Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® podcast. My name is Rebecca Dekker and I’m a nurse with my PhD and the founder of Evidence Based Birth®. Join me each week, as we work together to get evidence-based information into the hands of families and professionals around the world. As a reminder, this information is not medical advice. See ebbirth.com/disclaimer for more details.

Hi everyone, and welcome to today’s episode of the Evidence Based Birth® podcast. Just a quick heads up before we get started, if there happens to be a trigger or content warning for this episode, you’ll find it in the show notes in the podcasting app, or in the description under the YouTube video. And speaking of YouTube, I want to remind everyone that all of our podcasts episodes are now being posted on YouTube. And some of them, like this one, even have video recordings of the interview, so make sure to go to our Evidence Based Birth® YouTube channel and check them out. And now, I’d like to introduce our honored guest.

Marnellie Bishop, pronouns she/her, is a certified birth and postpartum doula and childbirth educator. Marnellie has additional training as an Evidence Based Birth® instructor and Hypnobabies® Hypno-Doula. She also serves the Portland, Oregon community as a board member and director of finance and operations at Community Doula Alliance. Prior to pursuing her passion to support families on their perinatal journey, Marnellie completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration and used her degree to help grow and sell her family’s printing company. As a second-generation immigrant to Filipino parents, Marnellie understands the intersectionality that many immigrant families face when it comes to identifying their parenting styles through the lens of their cultural background and today’s parenting values.

Through her work as a community member, doula, and childbirth educator, Marnellie seeks to help growing families feel empowered and confident in their unique journey through parenthood. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, set deep roots for Marnellie and she is proud to call Portland her forever home. Marnellie is a wife, mother to two active children, and dog mom to a Lagotto Romagnolo. Traveling, watersports, and DIY projects keep Marnellie and her family in a constant state of activity. And we are so thrilled that Marnellie took time out of her busy schedule to meet with us today to talk about being a postpartum and birth doula and childbirth educator. Welcome Marnellie, to the Evidence Based Birth® podcast.

Marnellie Bishop: Thank you so much, Rebecca. It’s exciting to be here and to talk with you and just fangirl with you. I’m like I get to talk … I was telling a client the other day, I get to talk to Rebecca. Really? The person that’s on the videos that we’re watching in our childbirth class. And I said, “Yes. That person.”

Rebecca Dekker: Well, I get to talk with you Marnellie. You’re becoming Instagram famous with all of your fun, social media videos, and reels. We love following you as well. So we’re really happy to talk with you. And you’re a very valued member of our Evidence Based Birth® instructor program and professional membership. And I was wondering if you could share with our listeners, what inspired you to become a birth and postpartum doula and what was your experience on this journey to serve others?

Marnellie Bishop: Yeah, so I am a person that really likes to know my options. And so for my own pregnancies, I did a ton of research, figured out what type of provider I wanted, where I wanted to give birth, interviewed birth centers. Birth centers did not become part of my journey because I got preeclampsia with my daughter. So then I had to have this whole other set of knowledge going into the birth space. And after having my kids, friends of mine started having kids. And I was telling them about my experience, about all of the information that I knew. And one friend eventually said, “You could get paid for telling people all of this information.” And I said, “Okay. Yeah, I have heard of …” They mentioned doulas and I’ve heard of doulas, but at that time it was definitely like, “Well, I’m not having a home birth, so I don’t necessarily know if that’s for me.” And I said, “Well, I’ll research it.”

And I researched it. And I was reading just information on what doulas do. And I think I even had stumbled upon a website, like a blog post from Evidence Based Birth® about doulas. And I said, “Yeah, no, that’s totally what I do for my friends. So now I could introduce this concept or talk to birthing families about their choices in birth and help and support them and let them know that it’s okay to have differing opinions from their parents or their friends. Okay. I’m in.” And started the training process. At the time I had like a six-month-old when I started. So all of it was through a virtual learning platform, which I really appreciated because it was easy to, you know.

Rebecca Dekker: And this was before COVID times.

Marnellie Bishop: Yeah. Drop the older, my daughter off to preschool, put the baby down for a nap, spend some time doing some learning and reading and writing for my certification process, and became a doula and started taking clients in 2017. And thankfully again was pre-COVID. So the first clients that I got were families that were attending a childbirth class that I had to audit through one of the hospital systems. So those first three clients were from a childbirth class and we kind of extended the learning in our prenatals. Saline locks. “Oh, well, I thought that I just had to have it.” “Do you want it? Let’s talk about what that looks like, what the benefits and risks are of that.” And I had one client decline it because they were like, “Well, we feel like that’s just a pathway to not get our unmedicated birth.” They declined it. They went on to have an unmedicated birth. One person was like, “Yeah, no, I feel like it’s, it’s something that is important for our family.” They had it, they didn’t use it.

One family had it, used it, helped support them in getting … They did have to have Pitocin for their birth to help progress their birth. And they all knew why or why they wanted a saline lock or why they didn’t. And they said it was easier knowing that these things were going to happen, especially giving birth in the hospital. One of the things that I tell clients is expect the admittance process to take an hour or more because … So depending on where you are in your birthing stage, you might be a lot further long after you get there or just a number of things. And they, “You were right. It took forever for us to get admitted and then to even start any sort of support from the hospital system, because they were so busy asking us questions and just making sure we were in their system before support from the hospital did happen. And so, thank you, too, that you were there to help us be comfortable through that process.”

Rebecca Dekker: So you learned right away that one of the challenges of a birth doula and laboring parents is that the hospital admission process can be cumbersome and not supportive.

Marnellie Bishop: Right. Yeah. I mean, I get it from the nurses’ perspective, they have to answer, get all of these questions answered. For some of the programs that I’ve seen, it won’t let them continue on through the questionnaire on the system until they checked all those boxes. And so they’re just sitting there. “I need to ask you one more question. I need ask you one more question.” And the birthing person’s like, “Can I just get in the tub? Can I just get in the tub?” “We’ll get there. We will. What can I do right now to help you feel comfortable?” I mean, one of the things is we’re giving people that are giving birth here in the Portland metro area have a lot of birth choices. They’re given, in my experience, I feel like many clients have been given true informed consent and understanding the benefits and risks of different procedures and, or been talked to prenatally about it.

So when we get to the birth space, clients feel very much aware of what’s going on. There might be a little bit of a reminder or how to pronounce different words. Like, “What was that stuff? It was like Asian soup that I think that they’re going to do for induction?” “Misoprostol.” “Yeah, that thing.” Especially in an induction, oftentimes at the beginning of an induction, I might not be there because I know it’s going to be a lengthy process. And so they’ll call me and say, “Okay, they’ve given me these options. And that’s the thing, the Japanese soup. Miso.” So I’m like, “Okay, you know what that is?” And they say, “Yeah, it’s the synthetic prostaglandin.” And they go down that decision path on which prostaglandin are they going to be using, or if it’s going to be combined with like a mechanical dilator like a Foley or a Cook’s catheter, and they feel really good because they know what those things do. And most recently within the last year, a lot of them have learned about those two different, or all those early intervention methodologies through the Evidence Based Birth® childbirth class.

Rebecca Dekker: So you’ve been doing this for four years. When did you also add on being a postpartum doula?

Marnellie Bishop: I did both birth and postpartum at the same time. So my training organization allowed me to do them kind of in tandem, which was really helpful because some of the reading in one informed … birth training informed postpartum, and vice versa in terms of how to support. For postpartum, if your client has a cesarean birth, in the birth training you learn what caesarean birth is. So then it helps inform how you support a postpartum family by understanding cesarean birth. So I was able to kind of, “Oh yeah.” One, I looked at the syllabus online from a training organization, I said, “Okay, these are the two subjects that are talking about the same thing. Let’s research it both at the same time, answer both at the same time.” So yeah, by 2017, I had both birth and postpartum doula training.

Rebecca Dekker: So you’ve been doing this for four years. Can you share some of the challenges you faced as a birth and postpartum doula?

Marnellie Bishop: Initially, it was winning partners over in the interview process. They’re thinking I’m replacing them as the doula and, “Well, then what am I going to do?” Birth partners are like, “Well, what am I going to do if you’re going to be there to support them and help them with their needs?” And I said, “Well, I’m there to support you too. I’m there to help maximize the benefit that you provide in the birth space to offer support. And I show you how to do all of the different comfort measures so that your partner, your birthing partner, can feel the most supported by you. And then I offer the kind of bird’s eye view to the birth environment and can help create that collaborative care between your medical team and all of us here, so that it’s something that you don’t have to be fearful of or scared about.” So winning partners over.

The other is I’m not part of an agency, or a collective. So I don’t come walking into a birth space with a name tag that says I’m part of such and such agency. And so they’re not as familiar with me as a private practice doula. They’re like, “You’re by yourself?” “Yes, I am. I’m by myself.” And so it was more, like most early doulas, it’s just the unfamiliarity of who you are, what’s your stance on things or how are you going to be in this birth space? So more of, I guess, a challenge of questioning my capabilities or my knowledge.

Rebecca Dekker: And I’m assuming that there’s a lot of doulas in the Portland, Oregon area. So maybe that’s why you feel a little bit like … because you’re practicing independently, not as part of a large kind of well-established group. Is that what you’re saying has been a challenge?

Marnellie Bishop: Right. Yeah. Yeah. It’s “Oh, you’re not part of this agency? I thought most doulas were part of this agency.” No, there’s a lot of us independent doulas because one, it’s easier. At least for me, it is easier for me to manage my own schedule, interview my own clients not be matched by a matchmaker. So some of the doula agencies here have matchmakers, so they get the inquiry, they pass it along to prospective doulas within their doula team. And then you get your client based on that. I like to have that one-on-one time with clients. I like to get to know them and see am I the person that you want to have in that birth room? Is that what you envision? That was an easier … So both those two were an easier challenge to overcome was just through that conversation. It’s what, “Are you birthing families? What support do you need? Medical team? This is the support that I provide and how can we work together to support this family?” So those were two easier ones.

Another one being a Brown doula. I’m Filipino. There’s doulas of color here in Portland, but it is generally a majority of doulas in the Portland metropolitan area are white. I would say that a lot of my clients are of different ethnicities. And so sometimes the challenge is if English is their second language, it’s kind of helping medical staff understand cultural differences and, or being aware and humble to cultural differences. So, the type of foods that different ethnic families will bring are going to be different. There’s going to be different language. And even though right now with masks, you can’t see the full facial reaction, but you can feel the body language shifts when different smells come into the room or they start talking in their language of origin.

And I’m like, I give the nurse eyes, like “You’re not being culturally humble to this family.” And understanding that there might be some translating going on here because one may speak English better than the other. And so you need to be patient through that. Give them that time and space because it’s not … This is all new to them. They don’t know. Especially if this is their first time giving birth in America, having been in a different country for their own births or experiencing birth in a different way. It’s all new to them. And so you can’t rush them through that understanding, especially during a vulnerable time of giving birth, some of the things that even I teach them will just, they forget, the birthing family will forget, and we have to have a reminder conversation, be like, “Hey, remember, this is what we talked about. This is all normal. Or this is common in a hospital setting. If it’s not feeling comfortable for you, what can you do to either give you more information or make things a lot more comfortable for you?”

Rebecca Dekker: … working with a lot of immigrant families or people who speak English as a second language in the Oregon area?

Marnellie Bishop: Right. Yeah. Yeah.

Rebecca Dekker: Can you tell us what inspired you to become involved with Evidence Based Birth®?

Marnellie Bishop: Yeah. So one, I appreciated the research and evidence is routinely updated. I remember when I started my doula journey, I think it was the evidence on, or the failure to progress article was out. And I was like, “Yes, this is really helpful.” And then I think in 2019, you updated it, or one of the articles you updated two years later. And I said, “Look, this is amazing. We have more information to give to families and it’s updated. So we’re not looking at outdated data.” I think that’s a big tool that I use in speaking with families and using, especially the childbirth class, using that recent evidence and data so that one, sometimes families go into their prenatal visits ahead of their providers. They’re like, “Oh, well, there’s this article that my doula shared with me.” And they go, “I haven’t heard that.”

Or I will tell them, “You should listen to this podcast episode,” so I really appreciate that it is the Evidence Based Birth® information is given in a way that it’s purely informative and it allows, or gives space for families to make the choices on their own. And then they’re not feeling pressured for thinking a different way. So the one that comes up pretty often is the newborn vaccines. “Well, I just don’t want to be looked at differently because I don’t really want my child to have those newborn vaccines right away.” And I just tell them, “Well, first let’s talk about why you might be feeling guilty about choosing to not do that. But then let’s also go look at the evidence. Let’s look up the vitamin K, what is that? Hepatitis” 

Rebecca Dekker: And to clarify that it’s not a vaccine.

Marnellie Bishop: Yeah. Right. And I said, “The hepatitis B that is a vaccine, and that’s something that you can decline at that point and then have a conversation with your pediatrician and get more information about, and then erythromycin ointment.” They’re like, “Oh, I thought that that’s just something they give to babies all the time. It’s an important thing to have.” “So well, it’s important in certain situations. So let’s talk about why those situations might be part of your newborn care tools.”

Rebecca Dekker: It sounds like there’s a lot of confusion around the newborn procedures in particular, and you were able to use the Evidence Based Birth® resources to help educate your clients of accurate information. We cover vitamin K and erythromycin eye ointment. We haven’t published anything on hepatitis B yet, but yeah. So kind of gives you some confidence in having conversations.

Marnellie Bishop: And for me too, the Evidence Based Birth®, I like the monthly training opportunities as a professional member. So there’s some things where for recertification as a doula, it’s not up yet for me, but one, it’s also good to just learn new information, especially if it’s helpful in serving families.

Rebecca Dekker: Right? Yeah. So for example, as we’re recording this, I think in another week or two, we’re going to have a training for professional members about hypertension, high blood pressure during pregnancy and the latest guidelines on that. And it’s definitely, those are the kinds of topics that I know doulas particular struggle with because their clients are facing these more and more frequently, these kinds of clinical situations that they’re looking to you as their trusted duel to help point them in the right direction for information.

Marnellie Bishop: Yeah. And for that particular topic, I am experienced in that. That is why…I know what gestational hypertension looks like. I know what it looks like to go to be induced for preeclampsia and what sort of things might be happening. And so clients that do get that diagnosis and are induced for preeclampsia, they at least … We have one of those like, “Marnellie, I have preeclampsia.” “Okay. Let’s just hash it out right now. Let me tell you, what’s going to go down.” They go, “Okay. I feel so much better. I’m not going to have to have a cesarean like right now.” “No, not right now.”

What I really appreciate about hospitals here is that sometimes most of the births that I attend when you start to see a birthing person that’s in that mindset of, “Oh no. I’m going down the slippery slope, I’m about to have a cesarean, “the birthing person feels empowered to ask that question. Oftentimes the response back is, “The goal is for vaginal birth. We will do everything that we can in order for you to have that vaginal birth. We will continue to watch for anything that’s medically necessary for that may indicate that we’re going to have to change our path.” And so that’s been really wonderful to hear from medical staff and pretty regularly, because especially when we get to the pushing phase and we’re in a prolonged pushing phase, because they, some of the articles they cue in to that, they’re like, “Okay, it’s like two hours. So when I get to the two hour mark for them might start being pushing too long.” “No, you’re not pushing too long. There’s so many things that we have to think about.” That’s oftentimes when that question gets brought up.

Rebecca Dekker: So you joined the Evidence Based Birth® instructor program in 2019, the year before the pandemic. Can you tell us what are some of your favorite moments with an Evidence Based Birth® instructor?

Marnellie Bishop: The coolest is that I got to be an instructor for a family in Scotland.

Rebecca Dekker: Whoa.

Marnellie Bishop: Yeah. And so it was really cool to listen to just the different terminology. So, we talked about synthetic prostaglandin or different cervical ripening medication, and in Great Britain, they call it pressy, P-R-E-S-S-Y. And I think, “Wait, I need to make that all make sense in my head,” and just listening to how similar and then how different the birth environment is. And this being, in this particular family’s case, this was their rainbow baby. And it was after a late-term loss. So, we got to the point where in this pregnancy where you are now more pregnant than you’ve ever been. And so we had to kind of have one of those emotional sessions to talk through, “Okay, now we’re looking at all of these different markers or things.”

And then in her birth, she was like, “It’s so good to feel those contractions and know that this is something that’s … I have a full-term baby, and this is leading to a live birth,” essentially. And they did. And it was fun to then also be kind of like a virtual doula in Oregon to Scotland. I would get … We were on the WhatsApp platform. And so we were texting back and forth and video chatting back and forth about different options that they were given in their birth experience. And so that was really cool. I really, that was a lot of fun.

Rebecca Dekker: And that was something that was made possible by the fact that we transitioned the class to only virtual in March of 2020.

Marnellie Bishop: Exactly.

Rebecca Dekker: And the virtual class is still an option today.

Marnellie Bishop: Yeah. Yeah. And so, yeah, I think that that’s been really fun for me as an instructor and just as a birth worker to then hear all of the different statistics from people in different parts of the country. So I’ve had Kentucky, I’ve had Washington. I mean, not that far away, but then Hawaii, California just having those conversations, even to hear those conversations among birthing families about how different things are for their given area is I think that’s … What’s that? Week one. It’s supposed to be … We’re supposed to have a short class, but we get into this long about how birth statistics are different in their given region and it’s fun. And Marnellie, what do you think? What do you think? Yeah, it’s really fun.

Rebecca Dekker: It’s definitely eye-opening when you meet people from other parts of the world and you hear about how things are done differently and you’re like, “Oh, so things don’t have to be done the way they are here.” There are people doing birth other ways and things are not set in stone. And so it’s definitely eye-opening for birth workers and families to learn about experiences in other places. Can you tell us about your work with serving your community in Portland and the nonprofit that you’re volunteering with?

Marnellie Bishop: Yeah. So I am part of a nonprofit organization called Community Doula Alliance. It’s a Black woman-led nonprofit here in Portland, and I serve on the board as treasurer, but I’m also an employee of the company and I am the director of finance and operations. So I’m … Kind of my list of things to do is help with infrastructure, manage our finances, and then kind of do the administrative side of getting doulas prepared to serve families. So here in Oregon, we have through Medicaid, doula support is a qualified expense. As an organization, as a community-based organization, our executive director Kimberly Porter has been working with different CCOs. Oh no, it’s escaping me what they’re called, what the CCO means, but essentially these are Medicaid billing insurer … or Medicaid insurers. So different insurance companies that provide a Medicaid arm of their insurance programs. And so she’s been contracting with, or talking with different organizations to earn, to get a higher rate for doulas. So right now, through the Oregon Health Authority through Medicaid, a doula can get, we’ll get paid $350 to provide birth support. That’s not a living wage.

Rebecca Dekker: $360?

Marnellie Bishop: Three hundred five zero.

Rebecca Dekker: $360.

Marnellie Bishop: Five zero.

Rebecca Dekker: 305.

Marnellie Bishop: Yeah. Three hundred five zero. So it’s not a living wage. So if you were a doula that was really wanting to serve your community, you would have to take six or more births to earn a living wage. That is direct entry to burnout by having that many births in a month. So Kimberly is, our goal as an organization is workforce development. So we offer two pathways for prospective doulas. One, you can train with us to become a doula. Specifically a traditional health worker doula. So that’s an identification or designation that you have to have in Oregon to then become a Medicaid billing provider as a doula. So training for doula, how to get on the THW registry.

And then if you want, you can become part of our diverse doula project. That’s our other program. And that’s where you get to serve Medicaid families. And it operates very much like an agency model because we get the inquiry, if they specifically ask for a doula, we will give them that doula and all of the billing kind of, we’re just, we’re the pass-through for that. So the doula provides the service. We tell the insurance provider, “Hey, this doula provided this service” and we then pay the doula based on that higher negotiated rate. And right now the range of rates that we’re negotiating are 700 to 1200 with different organizations. So that’s a lot better than 350.

One of the big things that some of the doulas that are part of our organization already, is just the mentorship and the support and community. So Kimberly has worked with many of … many, if not all of the doulas that are on our list of doulas right now, for the past two years. Two, almost three years to get them become trained as doulas, to understand the business side of doulas, understand the professionalism that is required or asked of doulas what that advocacy role looks like as a doula, especially if they are a Black, Indigenous, Latinx doula on what kind of things they might be coming up against in the birth space.

So just recently, Kimberly was with a group of Latina doulas, training doulas, and they were having conversations about what does it look like providing support at the hospital? And one doula said, “Oh, I was at a birth recently and they told me to stop speaking Spanish.” Why? Especially if you’re there to be preventive for it and also translate for a birthing family to stop speaking in language that they understand so that they can clearly understand what their options are. No. That’s not quality care if the family doesn’t even understand what’s going on. Then they’re just operating out of a fear mindset the whole time, because they just don’t know what’s going on. We are providing doulas that have a linguistic, cultural, lived experience, similarity to the families that they’re supporting. So they’re relatable for these families. It really makes navigating kind of to quote … One of your quotes is to navigate a broken system, because the systems aren’t designed to help underserved and underprivileged communities. They’re designed to, we want to have a healthy parent and a healthy baby, and how some of this other stuff comes about, that’s Not our problem. It’s healthy parent, healthy baby.

So as culturally specific doulas or community-based doulas, our goal is for them to have the same positive birth experience, regardless of demographics. That’s the equity strategy. You get the same level of care regardless. You get paid as a doula, a livable wage. That is the biggest strategic goal for us as an organization is the equity part, because most people don’t understand what equity means. Equity doesn’t mean like, “Oh, you just give them the opportunity.” You also have to give them an entry point into that opportunity and still make it accessible and usable. So many private doulas that want to help underserved communities, they have a higher rate so that they can do that. They can offer sliding scale for low-income families, and they don’t want to become part of the registry because the registry is only $350. And they’re like, “Well, no, I don’t want to do that.”

Okay. Well, then if you were wanting to be a doula who provides services, how you get paid, if that’s your driving force to support underserved communities is being able to get a higher rate. Yes, they understand that, but that’s also what’s available right now and kind of got to take what you can get. And if you work with an organization like Community Doula Alliance, we’ve been taking, or our executive director has been taking those steps to negotiate higher rates so that it is a more equitable living wage.

Rebecca Dekker: Yeah. And I’d encourage everyone who’s listening to go to the Community Doula Alliance website, it’s communitydoulaalliance.com and read about their mission and vision. And just like you said, Marnellie, when you click on the tab that says this is our doulas you can see that Community Doula Alliance has a wonderfully diverse group of doulas that can serve communities that look like them, which is really important. Even when you think that an area is as quote progressive in birth options as Portland, there’s still racism. There’s still barriers to care. There’s still systemic oppression. So it’s really critical that we have people on the ground who are from and of those communities to help them.

Marnellie Bishop: Exactly. And we’re diverse in our leadership. So there’s some organizations in our area that are Like, “Okay, well, we need to, as being reactive to the murder of George Floyd,” and we had here in Portland, we had the Wall of Moms here for Black Lives Matter. So reactively we had some agencies that were like, “We’re going to go hire a bunch of Black doulas,” but you don’t know how to serve Black doulas or provide support for those Black doulas. So we have had families, or there has been some harm done to Black doulas that we’re like, “Okay, we’re seeing the change.” And then they work for companies or agencies. And they’re like, “Okay, we’ve gotten … We’re able to serve families.” And then-

Rebecca Dekker: They experience harm.

Marnellie Bishop: … they experience harm. And so that’s where we’re also trying to shift the landscape of the birth community here. I think you mentioned it once in a, either in a podcast or maybe something on social media. Go to the communities, find the leadership that you want, or be part of the organizations that you see are doing the work that you want them to be doing, or you want to be doing. Partner with them, align with them and learn. I think that’s the biggest thing is don’t try to come and fix things when there are people that are already doing the work or make something new when there’s people that are already doing the work. When you could just invest in these organizations that that are in the community already. Let that be your equity strategy.

Rebecca Dekker: It’s that old statement don’t reinvent the wheel. See who’s already doing the work. And that’s a great call to action, Marnellie. We do have a resource page on our website, evidencebasedbirth.com/birthjustice, where you can see a list of Black and Brown-led nonprofits that are working on these issues in their communities. And you can search by community and if you know of one that’s not on that list, there’s a contact form at the bottom, so that we can add it to the list. Find out who’s near you and invest in them, either with your time, your energy, social media, and monetarily. So those are really important. That’s really important. Call to action. Thank you for bringing that up. Are there any other projects you’d like to share with our audience that you’re currently working on?

Marnellie Bishop: Community Doula Alliance is just about to launch their first cohort of learning for Swahili-speaking individuals.

Rebecca Dekker: Wow.

Marnellie Bishop: So that’s really, we have an instructor who is also a community health worker. So she is already within the community. She has helped find housing for these families, refugee families, or immigrant families. She’s also a doula and she’s going to be working with our program coordinator to provide training, doula training, for individuals that want to become doulas within their community. So that starts this weekend, the 20th of August. We had 11 students that are going to start their journey as doulas.

Rebecca Dekker: How exciting. And they’re all Swahili speaking.

Marnellie Bishop: They’re all Swahili-speaking doula, or individuals. So it’s really exciting. We’re excited about that. We just wrapped up a collaborative cohort of Latina doulas. And so now we’re just, we’re getting ready to do more. I mean, we’ve been meeting with many of our doulas in person because we have a small office space where we feel like it’s safe for us to do that. And so we’re really, really looking forward to actually being in community with our doulas. So that’s another project is that we do have a podcast coming out for Community Doula Alliance. It’s called the Doula Debrief. And it’s really, we’re going to be talking about how Black and Brown doulas are represented within the community, what their experiences are, and then also hopefully getting an opportunity to talk to families that are served by our doulas on just how that experience was for them. Just, yeah, continuing on our path to decolonize birth work in the Portland metropolitan area for now. We will expand. We’re in growth mindset. We must continue and grow.

Rebecca Dekker: Thank you for sharing. And I know you can follow Community Doula Alliance with that handle on Instagram. How can people follow you on social media and as an individual birth worker?

Marnellie Bishop: Yeah. So my handle is @hanaudoula, H-A-N-A-U doula. It’s on all of the things. So Instagram, Facebook, I am on Clubhouse, but as a listener. I sit and listen to all of the really great conversations that are happening on Clubhouse. And then my website is hanaudoula.com.

Rebecca Dekker: Thank you so much, Marnellie. It was so wonderful talking with you and we appreciate all that you do as an Evidence Based Birth® instructor and as a valued community member in the Portland doula kind of community. So thank you so much.

Marnellie Bishop: Thank you, Rebecca. It was wonderful to be here.

 

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