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Meet Sherisa Moore & the Mama Glow & BirthNet Community Doulas Supporting Births in Albany, New York

Bintou Diarra, A.B | Medical Anthropology, Brown University | March 27, 2024

The United States’ maternal health crisis is growing worse with time. The persistence of the issue of maternal mortality in a high-income country unfortunately means that high spending does not contribute to better health outcomes for women and birthing people. In New York’s Capital District region, a growing number of birth workers are turning to historical roots to tackle issues of today, and they’re using models of care that exist in the absence of money. In Spring of 2023 Mama Glow welcomed its first cohort of community doulas in the Capital District in a move to improve maternal and infant health outcomes in Albany and beyond. The group of doulas joined the Mama Glow Doula Homeschool Professional Training Program online. 

Birth justice non-profit BirthNet helped fund over twenty five local community members and University of Albany students scholarships through fundraising and grants to promote a team of doulas that are diverse, experienced, and qualified to support families in various birth settings, including home, and hospital births. We caught up with a few of the community doulas to talk about their work, and how they’ve honored the principles of their doula training with Mama Glow. For full-spectrum doula Sherisa Moore, RN, MSN, MA, IBCLC, the practicum program catalyzed ancestral healing and heightened ancestral knowledge, all while filling gaps in institutional knowledge. “As a registered nurse, the program touched on women’s anatomy in such great detail that I learned new things. Important things may I add that were never taught while in nursing school.”

Sherisa’s personal identities enabled her to come to the work with an appreciation for the teachings on mental and behavioral health. “The one thing that stuck out to me the most about Mama Glow is support for mental health. I read about birth worker burnout and that struck me personally as a healthcare worker,” she said. The Mama Glow Foundation captured the institutional and interpersonal shortcomings contributing to burnout in the Practicing Doula Experiences Survey earlier this year. 

Like Sherisa, many of the doulas juggle many hats. “As nurses, we are never taught how to support ourselves from being burnt out, especially since Covid happened. As a black woman, I also see burn out differently than possibly my other counterparts, and that was new to me. I love that Mama Glow focused on healing oneself before giving to others.” Equally notable to Sherisa is the work the Mama Glow Foundation is doing to drive policy changes that will guarantee doulas a livable wage.

The embodied practices also resonated with Sherisa. “I see me bringing movement and more breath work to my practice as a Doula. I find that that helps increase the bond you have with a client and helps them to process within themselves as well as into birth ultimately bringing that work into parenthood.” She explained that the most notable parts were the beginning, where they did meditation, the breathwork led by Mama Glow Founder Latham Thomas, and the ritualistic ending. “ Each training day was a joy to attend and help me to pause in life and work within myself. I also left meeting a bunch of great like-minded individuals. So my take from it is the importance of healing, you can not give to others with any empty cup.“

The training fits neatly within Sherisa’s path. “I’m a registered nurse of 13 years. I’ve been working in the medical field for 20+ years. I’m a lactation consultant and a Reiki level two practitioner. I’ve been a Doula for 3+ years, specifically supporting high risk maternity clients as my background is working with preterm infants in the NICU. I actually feel like I’m in the teaching phase of my work. I really enjoy educating and teaching all the things that I’ve been learning.  I see myself as a mentor for newer doulas.”

Since the training, Sherisa has committed to being a supportive educator to new doulas in search of mentorship. In addition to her pre-existing projects, she leads workshops to assist doulas in finding their niche within the sphere of birth work.

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