A Day in the Life of Brooklyn-based Doula, Chanel Porchia-Albert
Doula Chanel Porchia-Albert’s mission? To provide support, education and information to pregnant, low-income women of color.
Chanel’s mission allows her to serve women from many different walks of life. Every Mother Count’s grant helps support Ancient Song Doula Services to serve more mothers with a variety of services. We touched based recently to chat about one extremely full day.
Today, I started a new round of classes with pregnant women who are entering Ancient Song’s six-week Pregnancy Kitchen and 360-degrees of Pregnancy Programs in Brooklyn. These programs provide group prenatal education, nutrition counseling and guidance on preparing healthy culturally relevant meals. Each woman that participates in the programs is paired with a Birth Doula to attend their birth and a postpartum doula for up to one year of the child’s age. These programs are very focused on forming bonds between other pregnant women who will then empower each other during their pregnancy and beyond. While most of these programs take place at Ancient Song’s offices and kitchen, I also assist women who can’t make the trip to Brooklyn.
In fact, I just received a delightful email from an organization in the Bronx that assists moms who have criminal cases and child protective services cases. Ancient Song conducts their 360-Degrees of Pregnancy class and connects these moms with doulas. One of our doulas wrote a letter on behalf of one particular mom in the program. The judge who read her letter was so impressed that this mother had such extensive prenatal assistance that she indicated she might get her daughter (currently in foster care) back. That’s why we do this work.
Later that day, I had a counseling session with a woman whose doctor had recommended an induction for that evening. I discussed all her options with her so she knew she had a choice about whether or not to consent to the induction.
I know that for any mom, making a choice like this can be difficult because it concerns the well being of both her child and herself. You just pray you’re making the right decision.
In this case, the mom decided to go through with the induction. I arrived at 7:30pm to be with her as she went through labor. Her induction, like so many, began with Cervadil, (which is inserted into the vagina and is intended to ripen the cervix and prepare it for labor) but this mom’s body pushed it out. Later that evening, her doctor ruptured her membranes without informing her of what he was doing and without getting her consent. As the night progressed, the mom was “allowed” to rest for only an hour before Pitocin was started.
Around nine the next morning, the mom was fully dilated and the baby’s head was at station zero. She just needed time to let her baby descend into the pelvis. Alas, that’s not what happened. They rapidly increased her Pitocin dose and she pushed hard with all her might. She focused on me as I stood next to the OB. We did “Tug of War” with me holding one end of a bed sheet. She pulled on the other end as she pushed for two-and-a-half hours. When she began to get frantic, I reminded her she was strong and capable and doing a wonderful job. The doctor, for all his best intentions, massaged and massaged her perineum, but finally performed a 3rd degree episiotomy. Mom stared at me and pushed as they counted 1,2,3….PUSH! Baby emerged and it took everything in me to hold back tears because I felt every push. I too got the episiotomy and felt her relief and joy. In the next moment though, we realized there was no sound. The room was quiet. Baby wasn’t breathing. I told mom to say baby’s name and talk to her baby because she could hear her. I said a silent prayer. The pediatric doctors worked hard and finally, we heard a faint cry and a tiny scream. Mom burst into tears. She said nothing but then she smiled.
As I sat beside with this mom jotting her delivery notes, I received a text message from another mom who is due in August and whose water broke. She texted that she was 2–3 centimeters dilated and scared and she asked me to come right away. I talked with the mom who had just delivered and made sure she was okay. Then I dashed out the door to attend the next mother and witness the next birth. That one would be premature.
For Chanel, it’s all in a day’s work. Ancient Song Doula Services received a grant from Every Mother Counts to increase their capacity to serve women in New York. Your donations make this grant possible and support EMC’s work to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother.