When we think about birth, we see it as a spiritual event, one that is precious, sacred and filled with powerful possibility. We know that so many people don’t have access to the their desired birth experience and many more aren’t aware of what is possible. Aside from a handful of old-school videos and movies like ‘The Business of Being Born‘ or ‘Orgasmic Birth’ where else aside from YouTube do people get to see expressions of healthy, safe, harmonious birth? We recently connected with a beautiful mother, Marz Lovejoy who shared her idea for using her home birth as an educational tool to help bring awareness to birth equity while helping midwives and doulas of color. We caught up with the soon-to-be mother of two to learn more about her birth project and what it means to her and the movement centering black maternal health.
Mama Glow: We are celebrating Black Maternal Health Week and honoring the legacy of birth in our community. You’re using your platform to share your experience on social media. Can you tell us more about it?
Marz Lovejoy: Being that a lot of us are in spaces where we are using digital platforms and virtual reality more regularly, I wanted to challenge myself in merging live streaming with purpose. Since this outbreak, I have heard many stories about pregnant women and their horrible birth experiences (especially Black women and women of color) and felt compelled to act. I’m also currently pregnant, a Black woman, and have had a home birth with my first child, so it’s something that is near to my heart. I’ve got a lot of incredible women (Latham Thomas, SZA, Erykah Badu, Diana Gordon, Karrueche Tran, Ebonee Davis) playing different roles in the project roll out, and am super excited for the impact this will have!
You recently announced that you will be live streaming your upcoming birth. What inspired you to open your birth experience up to the world to observe?
Currently we are all isolated. Instead of having face-to face-interactions, everything has been turned into online screen interactions. I believe that live streaming my home birth would be a perfect fit for our current landscape of interconnectivity. My goal in doing this is to bring both the joy of life into real time, explore the concept of virtual intimacy, and to donate money raised from this to Black/WOC/LGBTQ Pregnant Women, Mothers, and Birth Workers.
What does Black maternal health week mean to you?
When I started working on this project in March, I had no idea Black maternal health week was coming up. And I think that speaks to how Black maternal health is not just one week for me, or any other Black woman-identifying person. Our health, our bodies, and our decisions regarding our wellbeing, matter. That’s why it is so important for us to have hand-crafted, specialized healthcare (hence my support of midwives and doulas). If the majority of medical professionals and/or institutions are systemically racist, then we end up with staggering stats like: The risk of pregnancy-related deaths for black women is 4 – 5 times higher than those of white women (CDC). Black maternal health is important to me 365 day a year and 366 in a leap year.
Can you tell us how you are spiritually preparing for your birth?
This birth has taught me that every birth is truly different. That said, I have had to mentally shift from having the baby in our home in Harlem, to having him in an Airbnb in Tulum, MX, to finally landing on having him at my Grandmother’s house in St. Paul, MN. I’ve had to constantly remind myself of all my blessings. I have been very intentional in surrounding myself with love, positive people and thoughts. Protecting my energy during this time has been so important and I hope everyone else is doing the same! I think a good place to start is by turning OFF the news.
What do you hope to teach people through your experience?
I want to educate people, normalize birth, and destigmatize myths around home births. I think it’s important for people to know that home births are safe (and often, safer) for low-risk pregnant women. Having a midwife and/or doula who have your best interests in mind can drastically change your birth experience. Having a baby should be a celebration…a sacred ceremony, not a routine, robotic, sterilized process. I want to help make midwives and doulas accessible for those who need them most –statistically the same people unable to afford their services. I also want to point out that many people who would greatly benefit from a home birth and/or doula may not have a safe home or environment to give birth in. I am fully aware of this, and while I do not have the power to change everyone’s situation, I think it’s important to be mindful and thought when speaking about “home” births and pregnancy in general. Women without permanent housing get pregnant and are mothers too, and it’s important they are not lost in these conversations. The lens we look through must include them. We have work to do!
How are you practicing self-care during your pregnancy, particularly during the time of COVID-19?
Taking longer showers…baths when I can, taking walks outside, practicing patience with my toddler J, I did a puzzle the other day and I cannot tell you the last time I did a puzzle! I’m also staying creative and productive – having a meaningful project such as this one helps a lot. Really, just using this time to walk in gratitude… mentally preparing for the new life that’s soon to come, and staying connected with my people as much as I can.
You’re using this moment to raise awareness, can you speak about the charitable component of this project? How can people support?
The Live Stream Birth will be pay-per-view, and 100% of those donations will be distributed to established organizations such as Roots Community Birth Center in Minneapolis and Black Mamas Matter Alliance.
I have also set up a GoFundMe account, where funds will be distributed to two separate grants:
- To support Black/WOC/LGBTQ pregnant women. (This can be to pay for their midwife and/or doulas services.
- Awarding two scholarships to fund one midwife and one doula as they train in their respective professions.
I know a lot of people are strapped for cash these days, uncertain of the future, but every dollar counts! So, if you’re able, you can support by donating to: Marz’s Live Birth Series and by spreading the word…it’s free!
I hope you’re able to tune in and celebrate this sacred moment with me! I’m due May 4th, so let’s see when he’ll decide to come… Thank you for this platform, Latham.