In this episode we invite you to think more about what it means to create community spaces that are powered by culturally responsive care.
How do we build trust within them, and how we build trust within ourselves, as we contemplate the changes that happen in our bodies, through pregnancy and postpartum, how we connect with what we want and need.
How do we understand our feeding choices, how we think about food for our babies and ourselves?
And why it is so important to tune in and be aware of cultural differences? Why do we need more representation throughout perinatal care across the spectrum of all of the different roles within it?
We need more representation, we need more folks who have different lived experiences who can offer racially and culturally congruent care who have a shared ancestral practices to uplift and support folks. To bring all of these topics together and share their wisdom on the subject is the wonderful Shalini Shah.
Welcome to this conversation as we dive into all of this and think about how we create perineal care environments that are supportive, open, and welcoming for all.
Join us as we discuss:
~Uplifting BIPOC birthworkers
~Fostering interdependence rather than individualism
~Eliminating shame in feeding journeys
~Body image & changes through pregnancy & postpartum
~Ayurveda & bringing yourself back to your body
Learn more and connect with Shalini here.
Maggie, RNC-OB 0:03
Welcome to your birth partners, the podcast identifying gaps, acknowledging biases, and co-creating a trauma informed standard of birth care with change agents across the spectrum of birth work. I'm your host, Maggie Runyon. I'm a birth nurse, educator and advocate who has been searching since 2010. The answers to how to provide better care during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Through my own pregnancies and supporting births in home and hospitals around the country. I've seen firsthand many the systemic flaws that exist in perinatal care. Through these conversations, I'm thrilled to share with you insights and inspiration as we work collectively to transform birth care.
Well, welcome back to the podcast, I am just really thrilled to be sharing the following conversation with you. As you know, we think more about what it means to create community spaces, how we build trust within them, and how we build trust within ourselves, as we contemplate the changes that happen in our bodies, through pregnancy and postpartum, how we connect with what we want and need, how we understand our feeding choices, how we think about food for our babies and ourselves. And why it is so important to tune in and be aware of cultural differences, why we need more representation throughout perinatal care across the spectrum of all of the different roles within it, we need more representation, we need more folks who have different lived experiences who can offer racially and culturally congruent care who have a shared ancestral practices to uplift and support folks and to bring all of these topics together and share their wisdom on the subject is the wonderful Shalini Shah. And I am so excited to walk you into this conversation between us as we dive into all of this and think about how we create perineal care environments that are supportive, open, and welcoming for all onto the show.
Well, welcome to the show, I am just so excited to dive into this conversation and learn more about your work and what we can all do to be in community better, especially through lactation and Postpartum Support. So if you can just share a little bit with our audience about kind of your background, how you came to be involved in perineal care.
Shalini, IBCLC & birthworker 2:34
Yeah, absolutely. So I have been in the reproductive wellness world for over a decade now worked with a little over 2000 families at this point. And I yeah, I got started with full spectrum, doula work. So I started with doing abortion, work, adoption, supporting families through birth and postpartum. And so much of this kind of perspective for me, and I was very thankful with my initial training, which was with the doula project in New York, I walked in with this perspective of like, How can I be this person that helps people have this quote, unquote, empowered experience? Then having supported people through all these different these different ways that that pregnancy can manifest really brought me kind of down to myself of, oh, my gosh, this work is not about me. It's about these people who are doing this amazing thing and all the various ways that it can unfold, and really gave me this foundation on how to best support people, which really just means how can I help people have a positive experience in whatever way that looks like for their individual experience. And so through this kind of lens of working as a full spectrum doula, I wanted to become a prenatal educator. And that's where I've spent a lot of my time in the past decade or so is teaching childbirth classes and newborn classes and lactation classes. And really, this was born from me attending births, and me helping folks in the postpartum experience and realizing that I wanted to be there earlier in this process, so I can help people really just navigate all of their options. Again, with that help of them having a more positive experience in whatever way that means to them. I have created a community resource network called BIPOC in the Bay, which is its intention is to increase the visibility of reproductive health practitioners in the Bay Area. I am also an IBCLC, an international board certified lactation consultants. And most recently, my sister Melissa and I decided to join together to create the shot sisters with my work and passion in reproductive wellness and theirs in yoga therapy and the Ayurvedic space. We wanted to create something that was reflective of that shared passion And that really is creating offerings that are focused on reclaiming ancestral roots within modern reproductive wellness. And we just created our first offering that we worked so hard on and put so much love into, which is a meditation program called expecting for pregnant and postpartum people.
Unknown Speaker 5:17
Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for sharing a little bit about your journey. I loved hearing about your kind of your arc, right. And I think it mimics the, that journey like several of us have shared about throughout this season, as we've talked so much about kind of like, what does it mean to really route our work in in community? And how does that show up for folks, and for so many of us, it started with that kind of a little bit more of those Savior helping vibes where like, we have this ideal birth, right. So like, we could just do if I can just do x, I can get everyone to have this quote unquote, perfect birth. Yeah. And then just how that evolves for us. As we get in, we realize like, oh, wait, that's not really what I'm called to do. That's actually not how I support folks. I just appreciate you sharing about that piece of it. And just so beautiful and full circle, it must feel to be working with your sister now on such an impactful project.
Unknown Speaker 6:09
Totally. Yeah, I just, I think back to my first birth, and I came in with my lavender essential oil. And I was like, yeah, get around, like, well, let's see how we can really optimize I think I said the words optimize this experience. And the person looks at me and they're just like, What are you doing right [laughter]
Unknown Speaker 6:32
you know, what we're here for it we are here for the the growth and the learning and in how we just gain more awareness about ourselves through this process, and really tuning into what what we are called to do with with folks and how we could best support them. So I love it. I would love to hear a little bit more about BIPOC in the Bay. And kind of how how that started, how you kind of read that what that looks like now?
Unknown Speaker 6:55
Oh my gosh, yes. So BIPOC in the Bay I wish there was like, like a romantic lovely story about this. But really, when people asked me about bipoc in the band, how it started, the two words that come to my mind are anger and spite. And that is like, where I joyously live, you know, I feel so much value in those two feelings, because they've really given me so much. And I again, I've been doing this work for a while and in the groups in the forums and the Facebook groups like we really see in the Bay Area. And I have a hunch of a lot of other places that the same, the same, like 20 people are being recommended for things, the same 20 people are being uplifted, and just really fawned over. And, of course, these like 20 people were white cis women that have this ultimate visibility. And there are so so so so many BIPOC practitioners who are just as amazing at what they do. So many people who are passionate about providing racially and culturally can coordinate care, and so many people who just don't have this visibility that are awesome human beings who are doing awesome and fascinating things just don't know about them, and more likely for their white counterparts, they choose not to know about them. And I was really sitting in this place of anger and frustration, where, you know, I was dreaming about how can we as a larger community support each other? How can we refer to each other? How can we uplift each other? And truly, my initial thought was like, You keep saying you don't know that these people exist, let me create something that shows you just how plentiful we are like we are many, and we take up space. And the more I started trying to connect with people in this space, and the more I started to learn about them, I became more and more angry and incensed of just it was almost like because these people had this visibility because they acted so much more competent and better, you know, and what does like better even mean, but we kind of internalize it in a way. And there was this really like divide and conquer strategy where there are people who have been in this field, way longer than I have. They're doing all these like various amounts of things and offerings. And I just simply didn't know about them. And the words I heard from people were the same things that I embodied, which was just for the longest time, I put my head down, and I just did the work. And I knew a couple of people. I had a few friends and a few colleagues in the community, but that really was it. And when I started the process of creating BIPOC in the Bay, the more I learned about people the more heard that same language of Yeah, I just gave up trying to find community. I just put my head down and I just did the work and how. Yeah, how isolating how insular that experience was for so many of us. You know, I think that at its roots community building within BIPOC space has the power to sue this, to nourish us, I think there's power in sharing community with people who overlap in our ways of being. We can, yeah, we can reclaim, we can learn, we can heal, and we can be reactivated. And so that was really just the starting place for me wanting to create this is just truly just having all of us they have the opportunity to look at how many of us there are and how just by knowing of each other, we can increase that visibility and uplift our practices and our work.
Unknown Speaker 10:45
Yes, I love it. So, I mean, so important, like you said, this is certainly not a Bay Area, only issue mimicked across many communities in many, many areas in our country. Do you have kind of what advice would you give? Maybe for other folks who are wanting to carry that same energy into their own area? Do you have kind of some lessons learned that you can share around that that process?
Unknown Speaker 11:10
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that, you know, when we, when we talk about building community, it can be a scary thing to talk about, it can be a scary thing to begin. And it almost feels really, it can feel really overwhelming. And so really at the base level, it's about interdependence, and and what is interdependence. Really, it's the foundation of community, our country is so focused on individualism, that our greatest strength can actually be our interdependence. And with that hesitancy and choosing interdependence, because, you know, we've been harmed, we've experienced violence, maybe we feel shame for having caused harm, intentionally or unintentionally, or we have this fear of causing harm. And that whole process is scary. But if we get down to like the real base of it of interdependence, what we're really saying is that, if you're choosing this way of embodying life and embodying community, you're really just saying that you love life. And you just, you want all people to thrive and belong and just have their lives affirmed. And when we turned it into something that's like, I have to love everybody I haven't community with like, I have to see myself in everybody I'm in community with I have to like really relate to people in like this all encompassing way, that doesn't feel realistic. But if at the baseline, it's not, I have to like you, it's I have, I really want to support your ability to thrive, and I want to support your livelihood, because you exist, and because you are a person, and because without each other, there really isn't anything that I think that's such a shift in the lens in which we look at community. And really, at the end of the day, when we talk about community building, that really begins with individual relationships, individual relationships, they're crucial to building these communities where everyone can feel seen and valued and cared for, we start with one person, that and we are intentionally caring and supportive, and focusing on this abundance and like step by step, block by block, we are beginning to build this this liberated world where we're all cared for, in the ways that we really deserve to be.
Unknown Speaker 13:32
Hmm, so much power there. Yeah. You know, the, that siloed nature that we that we get into in our country, like it's so prevalent, and it absolutely is a is a tool of white supremacy is a tool of separating and othering folks, and it, it's so it is so unfortunate. How much of that has carried over in, in birth care, both like in community environments to where it would seem like, oh, obviously, we would all like we're all in this together, right? We're all have this shared goal and those same vibes of the exclusivity, the kind of the turf wars territorial piece of like that there's there's not enough pregnant people to go around to support like,
Unknown Speaker 14:18
it's so frustrating. It's so maddening. And I think that, yeah, this world is moving in this way where we feel like we're constantly wanting more and more and more like, we want to build our business, we want to grow, we want to, we want to do all these things, and almost like quote unquote, like take over in a way and it's just, it's so frustrating because at the base level of birth work and reproductive wellness, it's, it's just about supporting people period. And God knows how many times I've been working with a family and or was interviewed with the family and was like, we're not this like we're not vibing like this isn't great. And just like I might have Like, all these perspectives around it, and maybe like my ego would feel a little bit like bruised, but at the end of the day, they are people that need support, and they deserve the best support for them. And what what is that going to look like? Maybe it's not good. Maybe my childbirth class doesn't suit them? Well, in the bay area right now, I've been seeing with such a limited amount of prenatal education available. And I just keep thinking, whenever someone gets in touch with me to become an educator, when someone is having trouble with their syllabus in their outlines, just just call me and we can talk it through, I can share from my, what I do, and we can help you build something that feels authentic to you, which is then going to be authentic to a certain amount of people. Absolutely. And it be just as simple as that in a way.
Unknown Speaker 15:51
Yeah. Yeah, I think it is so much of that scarcity versus abundance mindset kind of game, right? Like, there is so much we have built this idea that like, by turn away a client, like, as if there aren't gonna be others coming. Right? As if, and instead recognizing that way that like you said, that interdependence is so powerful, that referral, that that same energy, they're putting out to really best, and because again, harkening back to like your first point, like it's this, it is letting go of our own ego, of it being about us, right? Like, it's, we have to realize that it's so hard to do that, right? Because like we get into this work, we care so deeply about supporting pregnant people. And it does like it bruised our ego a little bit when we feel like oh, shouldn't I be able to help everyone? No, I think that's reasonable at every level.
Unknown Speaker 16:47
Like I shouldn't be everything for everybody. And if that means I'm doing something wrong, that means that I'm not good enough.
Unknown Speaker 16:55
Yeah, it pulls out all of those edges that we have about ourselves. And so I love what you created through my Packer debate, I love that the way that is just about coming together, it is about referring to each other. And it's about finding those strengths that match up best with what we what folks need, right? Recognizing that we all have these unique gifts, that are going to be the perfect fit, and exactly what is pretty family needs coming into it right? Like they are going to totally get that you have the vibe, it just it works you have this skill or offering that you can provide. And that like we know, we missed that when we're trying to just like get this whole grinding your business building or whatever, like happy to just like, you know, the capitalism piece, building on to it where we're in care, work, can't care what can't operate like that. Right? But like, when you look at anything, especially, and it's so hard to start a business, right? It's so challenging. And so you read the books, you see the social media posts, and it's all just like this, like, yeah, just keep going. More Clients like Check, check, check, grow, grow like it, it's so antithetical to what we actually need this work for ourselves to like it that is not sustainable for us as birth workers is that it doesn't benefit anyone in this system. But gosh, it just that has been able to be the predominant narrative. And like, we just we miss, we missed so much doing it that way. I wonder too. And I know as you you know, you're working to expand as you've been working to expand representation within kind of across the board in the perinatal space, I know one of the areas that we had talked about before recording was your work for lactation support, and what that looks like to kind of grow and expand that. And so I would love to segue into that piece of it.
Unknown Speaker 18:41
Absolutely. So I have been wanting to become an IBCLC from like, day two of getting into reproductive reproductive fields, and it scared the EverLiving shit out of me, like I was terrified of this entire process. And it was really, actually through creating bipoc in the bay is what motivated me to get serious and pursue becoming an ibclc I think it was meeting all these fabulous people of color and really getting more and more angry that you just assumed that the like the white women who got all this visibility were better than you in a way and when someone acts like they are you kind of just believe them through creating bipoc in the bay kind of unpacking things and, and moving deeper into myself and when I consciously realize that like when I vocalized that I was appalled. Like I was appalled with the system with these people but I was also appalled with myself. And I just switch turned like on in me and I just said kept saying to myself when everything's got hard, if they can do it. So can I and one of the biggest reasons around this was that You know, working with families for as long as I have, I would see all this harm caused by folks in lactation, really specifically with lactation consultants, the clients I work with would share their experiences. And I just kept thinking this isn't right, white IBCLCs, they serve mainly straight cis white clientele. And they can't tell what my status looks like on a brown or black body, which meant that people are in pain, like they were suffering, because of this lack of education and possibly like this real lack of interest in learning more. Yeah, and so many people would shut down people's cultural lactation foods because like, quote, the evidence doesn't support it as if that like, really matters. You know, like the misgendering of the lactating person, and the real lack of looking at people and their families in this holistic way. And I think that IBCLCs within the space of this reproductive wellness world from like doulas, and midwives to lactation consultants, there's this alignment with the like medical system, and like the medical industrial complex, more than it is with maybe the way midwifery and doula work was born, where there is this real desire for control and for being the person that makes it happen for somebody. And yeah, like that ego involved with being a lactation consultant, I feel like is really the heart of why there is so much so much harm in the work that we do. And that, that for the for the two years, that process of like, getting my prerequisites of taking all the training of like seeing patients waking up at four o'clock in the morning, that throughout at all that is what, what really, really drove me is that I really wanted to be in a space where I could just be a like a person to help support in whatever way that looks like to families. And I don't believe that I am the perfect lactation consultant. Pretty, I'm still I'm very new to this in this way. But I feel that compassion and just just love for these families and just helping them have an experience that feels positive, not that it's not going to be hard. But you know, why are we looking at it from one end of the spectrum, the other like I body feed, or I don't body feed, like there's so many between? And it's not about me telling people what they should do and what is going to be right. It's them telling me what they feel comfortable with what they feel like they can handle what they feel like they can do. And me helping them create a way a path to make that happen for them.
Unknown Speaker 22:50
Yeah, I think, you know, feeding support. It's so nuanced. And I think we have the path to hell is paved with good intention sort of thing. I think we had these like, especially within, you know, hospital birth care, right, we had this whole idea of like, right, we want to, we want to promote lactation, we want to provide services, and we put all of these super rigid goals and expectations on it, that staff and lactation consultants are supposed to meet, that obviously then means that they are pushing those on to postpartum people. And again, I don't think that was created with ill intent. I think there's it's like as the pendulum swings, right, you know, it was like formula feeding was so prevalent, there was hardly any support, that's, you know, 70s 80s there's this resurgence and then into like, 90s 2000s, you know, there's also this like, okay, IBCLCs, we're gonna really like formalize this process, we're going to, you know, make this all happen, who continues to set all these goals, yada, yada, yada. And I think, again, like so many pieces of perineal care, we took, like the human element out of it. And we tried to put it into these rigid boxes. And so what has been the experience of way too many people is that they felt like they went to a lactation consultant for support on their feeding journey. And they were shamed for what they were doing or weren't doing what they were supposed to be doing. They feel this intense pressure and that none of it is good enough, right, like, and it's just, it's heartbreaking. When you think of what a delicate time this is a vulnerable time in someone's life, just this extra pressure that we put on it and I just am so excited for this kind of next wave perhaps of lactation support that is coming that is recommended with that. So as we are kind of pulling back from this and I know and love many lactation consultants, and it's hard to reckon with the parts of your profession that weren't formed right. And I feel this way about nursing as well. Like, if you love something enough, sometimes you have to stick around and like make changes to it to make it be live up to its potential right and so I feel like That's what we have right now is like there is a way to provide feeding support and lactation support that doesn't make people feel like crap about how they're feeding a baby. Honestly, just that's, that's it? I don't I feel like that shouldn't have to be said, but there it is. So yeah,
Shalini, IBCLC & birthworker 25:13
depressing baseline that we're starting from like, I want to make people not feel like crap like that's
Maggie, RNC-OB 25:21
the bottom of the barrel like.
Unknown Speaker 25:25
And I really do I feel so strongly about the fact that, you know, when we talk about how my role in lactation, and I come at it, when I work with clients, or when I'm seeing people who are considering hiring a lactation consultant, there's so much defensiveness that I am approached with, and I hear it, I don't take offense to that, because every single person has had that experience, whether you're at the hospital, and you're like, Oh, God, I was treated like crap by two lactation consultants. But then the third one I liked, and they helped and supported me. And, you know, everyone either has a personal experience, or they have a loved one who has a personal experience. And really, the way I come about it is like, not everyone needs to body feed, like not everybody needs to have this lactation journey. But everyone really should have the opportunity to learn about it to understand it and make that decision. And I don't think that as a society, we've created this equity around that, like the population having the opportunity from the lack of community that people have, and the lack of support, lack of education, the lack of practice from a historical or like generational practice. And that is what's really frustrating to me is not you should do something for like, quote, unquote, whatever reasons, it's that, wow, like, we should all be given the same opportunities. So you get to choose what you resonate with, and what you feel is going to, you know, just help you have a positive experience, build confidence, help you bond and connect with your baby, what are those things for you? And the fact that people don't even have the opportunity to like, sit and think about that, like that at its foundation is just, it's just wrong? Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 27:09
Like that whole kind of the binary thinking that we have in so many things, again, like that there's a right way like, so it's either you're either by defeating, or you're formula feeding, right. Like, that's the question we posed as a nurse at the hospital. Right? That's the question. It's not like, so often it's stated like that, or it's the one choice like, your breastfeeding, right? That implies that there is a there's a right choice, and you're just going to affirm, like, go along with it. Instead just asking, like, hey, what have you thought about how you're feeding your baby, you know, there's so many easy, open ended way to like engage that conversation. But that's not how we do it by standard, right. Like, that's not the experience that most people have. And I think the other piece of this that I'd love for you to touch on is how through pregnancy, and postpartum, our bodies physically change so much. And then, as we are considering feeding choices, body feeding for most of us puts another like extra kind of focus on our body and our changing body on what it's doing on how it is measuring, meeting these standards, real or imagined. And I would just love to hear a little bit of kind of your perspective on how we support folks through feeding journeys through body feeding, with acceptance and awareness of just like these changes that are happening and getting so far past the snapback culture. The supplements, I just was having a heated Instagram exchange with someone who was we were not seeing eye to eye. And I went to like their profile just to try to like get a little bit more of a sense of like, okay, who are you? What is like your perspective? Where are you coming from, because I'm not getting it. And their first thing on that, like, top banner was like, I'm a mom of five. And, you know, I'm still rocking my sexy body. And you can too. And it's a link to some sort of supplement brand. And I was just like, I've seen all I need to see I've now stepping back because I've understood we are operating from a completely like fundamentally opposite perspective. And this is no longer to be it was never productive. I'm not recognizing that and I'm moving away, but I just that it irks me to no end. And I see it constantly in these spaces we're in where we are preying on the insecurities of pregnant and postpartum people, and especially ones who are lactating around what their body's supposed to do. Sorry, that was a long, deep dive question. But I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.
Unknown Speaker 29:33
So maddening because it's like what even is sexy, right? Like, we kind of all assume we have the same, like perspective on this. And we just like, like the media and like we've just been told what it is and then we just need to make that happen. But we know we know. It's like, it's just so much more encompassing and expansive than then just like this literal interpretation of like, I weigh this much. Yep. I look this way. And that is what we're all striving to that impossibility anyway. Yeah, I mean, this is such a place that I spend a lot of time on. Because I think that, from the day we're born, like, there's like this focus of control, like what we are putting in our bodies, like how, how we are meant to look how we are meant to dress, and then you become pregnant. And then you enter into this like new paradigm where the world starts to look at you in a different way, you may start to look at yourself in a different way, there's a lot more, and you think there can't be more, but then all of a sudden, you become pregnant, and there's so much more aspects of like, control on your body and you are no longer yourself, you're no longer a person, you are now a vessel. Like what is what is that? That's the first thing is that we really have to move towards recognizing that people regardless of whether they are, you know, carrying a pregnancy, like, well, they can carry a pregnancy and still be an individual. And they still have desires.
Unknown Speaker 31:09
Okay, let's let's get away from these really novel concepts here. All right.
Unknown Speaker 31:13
I mean, it's, it's beyond me that like someone becomes pregnant. And when I talk to folks, I work with folks as early as like conception planning, and like, six weeks pregnant, and it's six weeks, there's this like, anxiety of like, feeling watched, and like, I really don't know if I should have this cup of green tea, because it has caffeine and like,
Maggie, RNC-OB 31:35
oh, it's brutal,
Unknown Speaker 31:36
blah, blah, blah. It's like, what In what world has this been accepted as normal, that you as a person, regardless of whether you are carrying a pregnancy, like you deserve to feel validated, and loved and respected, and most importantly, you deserve to feel trusted. And like, this is like the baseline of working with families and just saying, like, I trust you, there are experts on the human body, on pregnancy, on birth, but like you have lived in this body for, you know, years. And you get to decide what being beautiful means to you, you get to decide what accepting your body means to you, you get to decide what you put in your body. Like, I trust you. And when we talk this, so much of the conversations and questions I get asked in pregnancy are, is it okay? If I eat this? Or like, what can I do to like, again, optimize my health, and make sure my babies like getting their DHA and like 70 grams of protein I used to eat that day. It's so often like this, like real western model where we're just, it's so fragmented, like, if I eat this, my body is going to take this like Vitamin E, and it's going to turn it into this for my baby. And that's, that's just not how it works. Like, it's a symphony of like, this holistic way that the body works. It's not I eat this, and this is the result. And so one big piece of the conversation that I really focus on is talking about the foods that that soothe you, the foods that make you feel good, emotionally, because we don't talk about the connection between mental and physical, emotional health. And if you're having a really hard day, and you eat a bowl of ice cream, and that is your way that like makes you feel connected to yourself, it makes you feel comforted. Yeah, your stress levels, and that's gonna be pretty damn good for your body too. And it's just, it's such a wild, wild concept to tell somebody, I trust you. And I believe that you know what's best for you. You have questions on like, protein, and carbs, and like all of that, sure, let's like get into it. But it's more, let me give you like this baseline of information, so that people move out of this kind of like, anxiety perspective. And now we're like, Okay, I have that information. So then we can really settle into our intuition. You know, if that means eating four Snickers bars, because that's just what you're craving. And that's what you can like, get down. Who am I to tell you any different, you're going to feel how your body reacts, you're going to thrive or you're going to feel like oh, you know, you know, maybe make a different decision tomorrow. I'm not here to police that I'm here to honor your experience, but also acknowledging that we live in a complicated world where people sometimes don't feel comfortable stepping into the power of taking the responsibility of health, and simply just honoring that, like it's not your responsibility you've lived in your body for all this time. And people have told you to be a certain way. And there is compassion in saying, like, I'm not up for making these decisions. And I feel like, I feel very edgy when I say that. And I feel like I shouldn't have to feel so. Whoa, what a wild thing to say. But, you know, if someone says to and I liken this to being at a birth, and someone has wanted to, like spontaneously, like, push their baby out and get in all these different positions, and we're on hour like, six, and the parent says, just get this freakin baby out of like, just get em out of me, stick your hand in me and take this out, you know, and we as doulas and as, like practitioners in this field, there's this like, but it should be in a certain way. And it's like, why they're telling you where their line is. Like, they're sharing that with you. And when it comes to people saying to me, I feel really traumatized by how my nipples have changed in pregnancy. I had the most beautiful nipples ever pre pregnancy, and now they look different, and I don't like them. I have been in the role of like, being a patient or being someone who's working with a practitioner where I say, like, you know, off the cuff, or jokingly, or just like, say something that's just like the reality of my life. And, you know, in this imperfect way, and the reaction that I get sometimes is, but you shouldn't be that way. No, you should just, you should just love it. Like, you should just like, love it. Like that shouldn't be the way it's it is like, and I felt so invalidated in these moments. And so criticized in a way, we don't need to love our bodies. And we don't, we certainly don't need the pressure of like being forced to love our bodies or the pressure of feeling comfortable in our skin. You know, I think that as practitioners, we can create the environment where people can feel open and honest about their feelings about themselves, their bodies, that changes, the shifts, and really help them understand that they're the ones who get, they get to feel how they feel, period, you know, period. and just having someone honor like them, someone saying, I look in the mirror, and I don't like what I see. Why do I have to have a say in that? Why do I need to transform that, really my role? And I think that when we want to transform that it's because of us like, we feel uncomfortable with that? No, it shouldn't be that way. Yeah. Then because it's not about them anymore. It's about me. And we have to do the work of sitting in the discomfort of letting someone express like all of these not so, you know, harmonious ways we want them to live. And just let them express it and sit with that and honor that and respect that. Because that is authentic to their journey. That is just their experience.
Unknown Speaker 38:02
Ooh, yeah. That deserves like its own podcast episode, right. Like there is so much to, to break down there. Yeah, I think there's just that power and releasing like that, like responsibility that we have, as you know, support people, and that the individual has in like that they have to have to have arrived to some, like, I'm totally the acceptance of everything that's happening to you and around me like that, that that kind of like almost toxic positivity kind of side of it is really important to acknowledge and I'm wondering how this kind of plays out in what you all have created with like ayurveda and the Shah sisters and how that is kind of like pulling together? And like, what is that? What does that look like?
Unknown Speaker 38:44
Yeah, oh my gosh, I'm so glad you asked that, because that, like everything we've talked about today, kind of leads me to this path I'm on, this destination in a way where when we talk about, like what we're creating, really, it's about bringing ancestral roots into modern reproductive wellness, when it comes to like ayurveda and connecting with that, connecting with that opportunity. We in our culture, and we talked about this, you know, just a few minutes ago about just like, even the food we consume, like, we think about it in like, calories and like optimizing and vitamins and
Maggie, RNC-OB 39:23
Food is fuel. Yeah. All that stuff.
Unknown Speaker 39:25
And it's like, ayurveda I believe is such a beautiful model because it shifts the lens in how we how we view health, you know, a current model of like that, you know, food is fuel, optimizing efficiency versus the Ayurvedic model, which really is about I think, balance and feeling. You connect with yourself, you connect with your essence and you understand, like when you're feeling out of balance, and then you you decide like, "oh, I'm feeling out of balance" in whatever way that means to me. Now I have These tools and practices that I can choose to integrate into my life to help you shift into a state that just makes you feel, you know, makes you feel more positively about, like, the experience of being alive. It's not about what food can do for you. It's simply like, how does this make me feel. And so, for example, with this offering, Expecting that we created, it's 10, audio meditations. And it's 10 Arabic recipes. And each recipe is paired with the meditation that has its own theme. And really, the focus is about allowing space to reclaim your right rest and autonomy. And, you know, this real understanding that bringing a child into this current world comes with its own series of stress and complexities and emotions around that. And, for example, we have one meditation where the theme is about grounding. And the recipe that's paired with it, and these are all like very simple recipes, but the recipe that's paired with it, it's not about like, again, the calories and what the food can do for you. It's about like, this food makes you feel comfy, it can make you feel cozy, it can help you feel connected to yourself. And the practice of cooking it the practice of taking the sips of, you know, like the soup, or whatever the dish is, is a practice in bringing yourself back to your body, and then guessing to yourself. Like how simply how does this make me feel? What am I looking for? In this? What I'm putting in my body? And how is that serving me in this way?
Unknown Speaker 41:44
Oh, that like, feels so good to hear. Right? Like they kind of like that we can focus on those like that. Reconnecting so much of the work I do with like the trauma informed birth nurse that there's that whole piece of really like how we, how we ground into our body, right, like reconnecting ourselves with that. And I think it is something that in walking that journey personally, and walking with others, like we are just as a whole as a society so disconnected. We have our mind is here and our bodies here. Our emotions are here, like, I think it is. Yeah, it just I just did. I have like just such a warm invitation to be able to think about the way we are nourishing ourselves on all of the levels that food provides. And yeah, I just I love that framing of it for anyone. But especially during like, during pregnancy. During postpartum when you have so much increased, you have been brought into this space, I feel like pregnancy brings you into this space of deeper connection with your body, it has the potential to at least I think most of us are like we are primed and ready for that. And so I think it's just such a beautiful time to open up this offering of like, hey, there is a different way, there's a different path for like relating to your body and to food and yeah, all of it. So I just 100% here for what you all are creating there. I think it just sounds incredible.
Unknown Speaker 43:13
I think yeah, like this approach that we have in our world where it's all or nothing, you know, like, Ooh, yeah, you're either like healthy, or you're not like you're like and how many people I've talked to recently, pregnant folks who say like, sheepishly like, I'm not an active person, I don't work out. And then they look at me, I'm like, Well, I'm not. I'm not here to tell you what you should or shouldn't do. Like, there's no judgement in like, how you choose to move your body. And, you know, just sitting with, what are you looking for? Like, what would tell me what you're looking for? Let's see, let's see what opportunities we have and working with somebody who, with a few people who just feel really disconnected from movement, but want to like make a shift, want to feel more bodies, but they're like, I don't want to sweat. You know, I really don't like washing my hair. And if I get sweaty, that means I have to wash my hair and like active movement and feeling my breath be labor that really triggers me. And for some people, we figure, you know, what? Why don't we learn a little bit more about tai chi? Why don't we just see how that feels in our body and look up YouTube videos, we learn a little bit about it. And we just start the practice and because for example, tai chi, and you know yoga, also to this, like, you know, I'm not only talking about like power yoga, but like different practices where you're simply just connecting with that ease of breathing and just shifting and moving your body in a certain way. Why does it have to be about weight loss? Why does it have to be about like, quote unquote, cardio? Why do you have to be a fit, quote, active, healthy person or not? Why can't you simply do things that bring you joy and bring you some students and just make you feel? Good, you know, in whatever way? I think that's the beauty with IoT either and really also just connecting with ancestral practices and whatever that means to you. You know, many, many, many years ago, so many people in our lineage in our ancestry, the focus wasn't like getting a six pack. No...
Unknown Speaker 45:15
I know, can you imagine? Like, that has been that is the thing. Yeah, I love that like, that is just that reminder of instant ways how just like, ridiculous just kind of like untethered to anything else. Like so many of the expectations, goals, whatever you want to say that, like, have become pervasive in society now, like, there is that piece too of assigning this, like moral value to all these choices, right? You know, that like that? You know, right. So like, Oh, you're someone who we do it around, like, Oh, you're someone who sleeps in like, Oh, so you're like, lazy, you know, like, there's all these things like, Oh, you like don't leave your body like, okay, cuz you're like a terrible person. When those are obviously like, you've taken one thing you've ran in a completely different, like, there is no, there is no correlation at all. And yeah, we just there's, there's such a kinder way to be in community with ourselves to be like, in communion with our body like, I like he's that I think those like, especially so many of like gentle movement practices. I, a yoga teacher, I love always talks about, you know, ends every practice, we'll talk about how we reunited and mind body, breath and spirit and like, that is always just as call that like, right there, all of these pieces of us and we can take these opportunities to bring them together. And it does not have to be about having my you know, whatever watch on tracking how many minutes I was active, how many calories I burned, like those do not have to be the metrics that that assign value, to their worthiness to like, our activity, the way we choose to live your day.
Unknown Speaker 46:50
Yeah, it's like going to a Pilates class is not going to, you know, radically transform your physical and emotional health. accepting yourself accepting your body, bringing awareness to just like, to that perspective stuff like ending structural racism, like all of those things, such bigger shifts in people's, like, overall holistic well being, then our focus of like, I need to do this, like, I need to integrate this and like we're trying to force wellness into our bodies, like in this fragmented way. And it's like, that's not how it works, you know, just just that aspect of someone looking at me and very confidently saying, like, Yeah, I'm not really into movement, like, and having someone respond, just saying, Okay, what are you interested in focusing on? And talking about? If that was a way I feel like we, we witnessed people, and we just kind of gave them space to feel comfortable with their choices? Gosh, like, just like, What a dream? I wouldn't dream of a world we could be in?
Unknown Speaker 48:03
Yes. Well, and I want to pick that up. The last question we have for everyone throughout the season, is for you to tell us what is your dream, your vision for community birth care?
Unknown Speaker 48:14
Oh, I love that. I mean, I think really, at the end of the day, just my dream is just like, unabashed expansive support, and understanding. And so just, you know, the theme of what we've really been talking about today is just trusting that people know what they need, and giving them the opportunity to receive that, whether that means and, you know, we talk about, for example, like cesarean care, and we have these conversations around like, there are too many cesareans in the United States. But that is a different conversation from supporting people who have cesareans. Yep. And someone saying to me, this is my choice. This is what I want. Who am I to tell them? No, like, I know better than you what what is there for your body. And by giving people this just pure, true authentic support, and love and acceptance and trust is starting at the baseline of that if the amount of just radical change and love people are starting their journey with of parenthood, how much we can kind of shift the conversation, because people won't. In an ideal world, we're not starting from a level of just being traumatized. We're starting from a level of like this, like just loving pragmatism, in a way, like, I accept you for who you are and who you are telling me. You're telling. You're sharing your experience and I accept that and I love it because I love you. Carry it
Unknown Speaker 50:00
I'm here for that future. So thank you for Cassiodorus I do believe we can make shifts. So that that is like the reality within our care. And I am so grateful for you and the many ways that you show up in in this work and, and push for for change and a better way of being together. So thank you so much for coming on here and sharing this conversation together.
Unknown Speaker 50:22
Thank you for having me. I loved it.
Unknown Speaker 50:27
I will just so much gratitude to Shalini for walking us through this and sharing a little bit more of her vision for how care can look how we can show up in community with each other. And with those we serve. We would love to hear from you what what struck you about this episode so feel free to find us all across social media. We are your partners, and we would love for you to share a tidbit in your stories on IG and tag us so we can dive in deeper together. Till next time