Chae Pounds, Birthmark Doula Collective | Juneteenth Q&A
Birth justice and Black joy are central to quality, respectful and equitable maternity care. This Juneteenth, meet four incredible community leaders in maternal health and read how they conceptualize the moment.
For more than a decade, Every Mother Counts has supported leaders in the U.S. who are uplifting birth justice, which not only includes eliminating racial disparities in maternal health, but also fostering Black joy in the lives and maternity care experiences of Black mothers and birthing people in their communities. Birthmark Doula Collective, Shades of Blue Project, Uzazi Village and Roots Community Birth Center exemplify the community and human-centered approach to Black maternal health that is sorely lacking in the U.S. health care system.
Please introduce yourself, your organization, and why you’ve dedicated yourself to this work.
My name is Chae Pounds and I am a wife, mom of 4, and a birth worker. These days I mostly identify as a midwife. I am representing Birthmark Doula Collective where I act as a member-owner, Black Birth Matters Coordinator, and doula. I’ve dedicated myself to this work because I am this work. People that look like me have been doing this since the literal beginning of time and I am just choosing to honor them by continuing to walk this sacred path. When I walk into a room I want there to be a black and radical person on the other side, so I also want to be that birth worker for others. We need more of us.
From the perspective of a Black maternal health advocate and/or care provider, what significance does Juneteenth hold to you?
Juneteenth means the world to me! We have been celebrating Juneteenth since I was a child. Now as a care provider, the overall premise of Juneteenth shows up in my work every day: freedom. I want people I come into contact with to know they are free! Free to make whatever birth choices they want. Free to have the birth that they want. Free to LIVE to tell their birth stories! FREE!
From 2021 to future generations, how do you envision birth justice in action?
Simply put, I envision equity in birth options, and when those options are not readily present I want there to be someone to rectify the situation in a timely manner.
What does centering Black joy in all four trimesters of pregnancy look like? Why is it so important to do so in your experience?
To me that looks like being well loved, well supported, and well cared for. This is important because black women deserve to bask in the beauty that is pregnancy and postpartum. We deserve to be celebrated and we deserve to rest and take all the time we need to do so.
How do you and your organization’s team combat inequities in maternity care that affect Black birthing people?
We try to center black people and our struggles. We have a conference called “Black Birth Matters” that is all about combating maternal inequities, and we also hire and pay black birth workers to ensure that folks have people that look like them. We also have “Cafe au lait” (which I am a personal fan of) that centers black and brown breast feeders! I think we do a great job of trying to ensure that black folks are getting great care.
How can EMC’s community learn even more about your work?
You can find me on Facebook at “Chae Pounds” and on Instagram at @chaethesupreme (which often features my super funny kids)! I also host a support group for people in the postpartum period over at @thesunflowersociety_ on Instagram! You can always catch me in person at a Sista Midwife event and of course at a @birthmarkdoulas event. You can also hear me at @homecomingpodcast. We broadcast wherever you get your podcasts!