At the end of my pregnancy, I met a doula who specialized in supporting immigrant non-English speaking women. I didn’t really know what a doula was or how having a stranger at my delivery fit in to the big picture, so I didn’t follow up. I later read about Miriam Zoila Pérez, another doula, in Latina magazine. I figured it was time to look into this.
Pérez blogs at radicaldoula.com. She describes a doula as “the one person who’s not worried about anything else that’s going on,” someone who provides emotional and psychological support to a mother during childbirth.
After deciding that pre-med wasn’t for her, and seeing the natural birth documentary The Business of Being Born, Pérez decided to become a midwife, but was advised to become a doula because she wanted to work with lesbian and immigrant women. She spent a semester in Ecuador and volunteering in a maternity ward (not as an official doula). After returning to the States, Pérez trained to become a doula, working mostly with Latina immigrants.
While working with immigrants, Pérez saw a discrepancy between the quality of care for Latina immigrants versus insured white women. One of the biggest issues was the language barrier. The hospital where Pérez worked only brought in an interpreter when papers are to be signed. The doctors “chose what they wanted to communicate and spoke English otherwise . . . imagine – what does that do to your quality of care?”A doula is not a translator, but Pérez was still challenged on how much to communicate to the mother.
According to Pérez, most Latinas give birth in a hospital instead of choosing natural birth at home or in a birthing center. She attributes this to the fact that in Latin America there is a “big push” by the World Health Organization and other developmental organizations for women to give birth in hospitals, because they see it as “a marker of development.” Immigrants also choose hospitals as a sign of class and social status – “in Latin America you go to the hospital if you can afford it,” Perez says.
When it comes to second and third generation Latinas, their positions on childbirth tend to come more in line with the general American population.
Giving birth is not the only life-altering event in a woman’s reproductive health. Women also face abortions, miscarriages, and other events. This is where full-spectrum doulas such as Pérez come into play. A full-spectrum doula supports a woman not only during birth but for abortion, adoption, surrogacy and miscarriage.
Supporting women during abortions (some of these procedures are actually to help a woman who had a partial miscarriage) is quite controversial in the doula community. “I felt like I wasn’t connecting in the doula community] and wanted to talk about why being pro-choice made sense to me,” Perez says. She started the blog – a “new arena” at the time – to build the connections she sought.
Perez has expanded from being a doula to blogging about it to writing, editing at feministing.com, and activism. She is a consultant for The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. She also has been nominated her for the 2011 Women’s Media Center Social Media Award! If you go to the Women’s Media Center website, you can scroll over to read about her nomination and then vote for her to win!
Having a baby is a beautiful and disgusting, exhausting and exhilarating, joyous and terrifying. Everyone gives you their crazy advice and horror stories. As a Latina, others might not understand your culture and family dynamics.
Even if you have a supportive husband and family visiting during labor, you wish they would get the hell out of the way during the trying moments of labor – but at the same time, you want someone to be there with you. This person could be a doula.
Latinas have diverse backgrounds and individual experiences with chilbirth, and our cultura should be taken into account to provide a supportive atmosphere during childbirth.
Other reproductive issues are often fraught with the same conflicting emotions. Thanks to doulas/bloggers/activists like Miriam Perez, we know that there is someone out there that can provide support to us during those tough times.1 comment
If you want to get news about and from the Latino perspective, where do you go? Many years ago, I realized that just watching the local news and the Today Show is not going to cut it in terms of consuming news stories that interest me and matter to me. In fact, no one should probably only rely on those sources, because 1) there’s just no way they can cover everything, especially if it’s local news and especially if you’re like me and you don’t live in an area with a decently sized Latino population and 2) segments with Martha Stewart, while interesting, just lack the heft of serious reporting. Here are some of my regular online sources of news:
I started reading the Latin Americanist several years ago and it has definitely kept me informed. Basically, the Latin Americanist has short daily posts on what is going on in Latin America (Daily Headlines), with a separate post for global news (Global Watch). They tend to report right on target regarding things like elections or coffee or trade agreements, as well as some lighter pieces like soccer news (now, some of you may disagree with me on whether soccer is a light subject, but that’s another matter). They also have a regular column called Nuestro Cine, which examines movies about/by Latin Americans.
There’s a reason I’ve been reading this for years. If you want to be informed about what’s going on with our neighbors to the south, and the rest of the world, this is a great place to start.
I just started checking out this source. Paper.li has “content curators” that cull the daily headlines to create a daily “newspaper” created from other news sources. You get your news based on your own niche.The Chicanísima Daily features pages on immigration and the Dream Act, as well as other topics. So far, I really like the kind of content I get here. It’s out there in the mainstream media, but it’s hard to get it all piecemeal. The Chicanísima Daily takes care of that for you.
I started reading News Taco after seeing one of the founders interviewed by Jorge Ramos on Univsion. It seems that in the short time since I saw that interview, the website has exploded. They seem to be featuring more original content, which I love. Their articles are fearless and feature all kinds of topics, mostly in the interest of U.S. Latinos. I find one writer, OhHellsNa, very compelling. She wrote about her cruel grandmother and afterwards, her family’s backlash in response to the article she wrote. There’s a lot of stereotype-smashing going on over there. Overall, I’m going to keep watching this site.
I follow this website via Twitter (@Latina Lista). What you will find is thoughtful, well written articles covering a variety of topics. My favorite section of the site is Palabra Final, which gives “a viewpoint on anything and everything from a Latina perspective. I was struck by the quality of the content, and then I noticed that the publisher, Marisa Treviño, is a syndicated journalist. Well, no wonder! Definitely a winner.
If you like your celebrity news with a side of snark, this is the place to go. I discovered Guanabee several years ago when I was searching every way I could think of in Google Reader trying to find blogs with Hispanic topics – this was pretty much all I found. Thank goodness things have changed! I like to click over every once in a while to see what’s going on in celeb world.
If you want to find relevant news, you have to look for it. These are just a few internet places to start. So, where do you go to get your news from a Latin@ perspective?2 comments
Yesterday, I saw Aaron Sanchez on the Today Show, making garlic-chipotle love sauce. Ok, anything named love sauce has got to taste damn good. So it got me thinking about cookbooks. Do you think of cookbooks when you think of writing? I do. To me, cooking is really important. I like to nourish my family and pass on my heritage through real food. Here’s three Latino cookbooks you might want to check out.
Sanchez’s cookbook is Simple Food, Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-Inspired Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours (the book is written with JJ Goode). The term “Mexican-inspired” gives me pause because it makes me think of yucky Mexican restaurant food that caters to American tastes. I’m picky like that – nothing my family has ever served featured a giant helping of sliced black olives, okay? But Sanchez’ skills were passed on to him by his mother, also a chef, so I’m going to look this one over as soon as I get my hands on it. I’ll definitely be trying the love sauce.
Sanchez is a Food Network star and owns several restaurants in New York. His other cookbook is La Comida del Barrio.
I flipped through Eva Longoria’s book, Eva’s Kitchen, when I saw it on the store display a few weeks ago. I have to tell you, I was pretty skeptical. So I skipped over to the recipe for arroz rojo. (The ultimate test.) I don’t measure when I cook mine, but the recipe seemed right on. You also see a personal side of Longoria when she includes her disabled sister’s favorite recipe.
So then I looked at the recipe for red enchiladas. The recipe called for making the sauce from scratch. Who am I kidding? My sauce comes courtesy Las Palmas or El Pato. But if that recipe came out tasting like abuela’s I’d be over the moon. This one is going on my Christmas wish list.
The next cookbook hasn’t come out yet. But you can go to the blog the book came out of, Muy Bueno Cookbook! I saved the best for last because this blog rocks. This blog is a family affair and features authentic recipes and beautiful photos. My mouth waters every time I click over.
One day I decided that my mom needed one of her favorite comfort foods, so I set out to find a recipe for capirotada, which I’ve never made. I’m googling this over and over to try to find something authentic, and I found this website. I adapted their recipe for capirotada (it’s not easy to find piloncillo in Alabama, so I used brown sugar), and it was delicious. If you don’t know what capirotada is, it’s a bread pudding that uses day-old bread, cheese, raisins, brown sugar/piloncillo, and other ingredients depending on your personal variation. It turns out sweet and salty and you have to try it even though it sounds weird.
Okay! I’m hungry now. Go forth and cook something good today!2 comments
When my daughter was born, the Internet saved me. I worried over every little thing and had a tough time breastfeeding. I was constantly on websites like BabyCenter and La Leche League. But mostly, it was the mommy blogs that gave me some reprieve from those tough early days. It was a great escape to read them for advice on fashion, raising kids, home decorating, sewing — these internet moms are savvy in just about everything and are willing to share their expertise. What’s even better is when you find a mami blog with a little cultura. So today I want to showcase just two of the many mami blogs written from a Latina perspective.
Mamá Latina Tips by Silvia Martinez features a little bit of everything having to do with being a busy mom in today’s world. She is originally from Guanajuato, Mexico and shares articles on Mexican culture accompanied by beautiful photographs. The best thing about this blog is that it is bilingual! One of the best ways for me to improve my Spanish vocabulary is by reading – and bilingual books and websites are great for this. For adults, Spanish readers are great, and there are tons of bilingual books for las criaturas, too.
Mami’s Time Out is exactly that – a bit of fun relief for your day. This blog is a little more fashion and pop culture driven. Jai, a Dominican from New York, also features a hilarious Wordless Wednesday column and a recap of the latest telenovelas! This blog is a little different because you read posts in separate categories – I prefer to read them in chronological order so I can see everything (hmmm, maybe I’m a blog stalker?).
Both of these websites are a lot of fun to read and feature a bunch of giveaways. Check them out!no comments