This past summer, we had the incredible opportunity to provide teaching resources and DivaCups for Ancient Song Doula Services in Brooklyn, NY. Ancient Song is providing much needed reproductive support to their community and we wanted to share their story with the Diva Community. Our team spoke with Chanel Porchia this fall and here is a recap of that conversation:
1.How did Ancient Song Doula Services get started?
I have always been active in my community joining organization or working with individuals around issues of social justice and inequality. This passion followed me in college and has throughout my life. While working in NYC I came upon a natural birth expo in Union Square and was amazed at all the information on reproductive health and the many alternatives to modern medicine. I’ve had my own personal challenges with reproductive health issues as I suffered from fibroids that made me look and feel pregnant when I wasn’t and traditional approaches were not very effective for my care.
After having major surgery to remove the fibroids I sought out a new way of life, changing my diet and becoming a vegan all the while continuing to research the effects of our reproductive choices and how they impact our physical lives in many ways. I also switched up my period care routine from using tampons and sanitary products to things more holistic and earth friendly.
So, when I saw the expo I was totally blown away. I met midwives and doula of color, something I had no idea even existed in this day and age. I gathered all the information that I could and held on to it just in case I could share it with my friends or relatives. When I became pregnant two years later I did what everyone else did and went to a OB/GYN but was not pleased with the level of care that I received. Then I remembered that I had all this info in a bin from the Expo. I dug it out and my journey began.
I found a midwife and doula who assisted me in having the most powerful experience in my life. Not only did I birth a child I birthed myself.
The care, compassion, and support was unmatched and helped me through the process of knowing that there was nothing wrong with me or my body that in fact my ancestors had done this over and over and I was a by-product of that strength. I used that to push out my first of four children and it changed my life and Ancient Song Doula Services was created. My cousin said that during the birthing process I sounded like I was singing an Ancient Song. Since, then I have heard numerous women sing Ancient Song’s during birth.
After that I knew other women needed to experience the same thing especially women of color and low income families.
I didn’t know how I was going to make it happen, but I trusted in something greater than myself. I put a call out on a listserv and 12 women came out and our collective was established. Since then many women have passed through our doors, but I will never forget the passion and determination that we all had in knowing that we held the beliefs that all women deserve quality care regardless of their station in life.
We believe that all women regardless of education, socio-economic factors, or race deserve quality healthcare and should feel empowered by their birthing experience.
2. What are the benefits of hiring a doula?
Some of the benefits of hiring a doula include continuous non-judgmental support, lowering the risk of interventions, C-sections, and support for positive breastfeeding outcomes.
3. Why is sustainable period care important to your practice? What sort of menstrual cycle support, service and education do you provide to the community?
We believe it is highly important to the environment and to let women and girls know that they have options when it comes to their reproductive health. As women we have items that are marketed to us that are unhealthy to our overall care. When we find a product like The DivaCup that is environmentally friendly and sparks a change in the way we view our personal care, that’s important. As women we need to be empowered by the choices we make and ensure our choices come from an informed perspective.
4. What sort of postpartum care do you recommend to women? What can women do to help the healing process and how soon after would you recommend they start using The DivaCup again?
Sometimes after giving birth we may not be ready to use the tools that we did previously right away as it may feel uncomfortable. We suggest that our clients should wait at least 6 weeks or until they have clearance from their provider via midwife or doctor before trying The DivaCup because we take into consideration the birthing process and for each mom that is different. We also talk to our clients and ask what self-care looks like to them because every woman is different? How does that fit in with your birthing experience?
5. What is your experience with The DivaCup. How did you first hear about it?
I was introduced to The DivaCup from a fellow doula. She was talking about this great product she has that allowed her to manage her flow and really become informed about her body. It sounded great to me so I tried it and loved it! We show it to all of our clients and folks who walk through our doors. It`s amazing to see their reactions and we are always excited when they come back and tell us their success stories about using The DivaCup.
6. If you could provide some advice to health educators who are teaching young women about the menstrual cycle, what would it be?
We hold many events and workshops at Ancient Song that range from breastfeeding and bottle feeding clinics, teen reproductive health (where we talk about The DivaCup) and pregnancy care. We treat women of all ages, but when it comes to our youth, we have learned some incredible insight about these young women. Don’t talk down to them like you know more about their bodies than they do. Speak to them in a non-judgmental way that allows them to feel empowered about the choices they are making because we all had to learn at some point in our lives and most of all speak to them not as if you are trying to change them, but rather introduce to them something that can empower them. The changes that manifest from that are amazing!
Ancient Song Doula Services
Ancient Song Doula Services was founded in the Fall of 2008 with the goal to offer quality Doula Services to Women of Color and Low Income Families who otherwise would not be able to afford Doula Care. Through education, community outreach and hands on training, ASDS is changing the way women view their reproductive health while at the same time empowering them with a better period care experience.