New in March 2017, Birth Allowed Radio is Birth Monopoly’s latest project and foray into into creating media that influences culture.  We’ll cover the ways in which women and families are “allowed” and “not allowed” to give birth on their own terms, often via story-telling.

Birth Allowed Radio is now on iTunes! Listen & leave a review!

Ep. 16 From Doula to Obstetric Violence Activist | Lindsay Askins

In this episode of Birth Allowed Radio, we talk about obstetric violence, aggressive court orders, and the special trauma of early separation.

My special guest is Lindsay Askins, a birth doula and birth photographer, and my partner in Exposing the Silence, a photography and interview project about birth trauma and obstetric violence.

While acting in the role of birth photographer, Lindsay watched a mother fight to see her newborn baby after it was immediately taken from her by the medical staff. “She never even looked at the baby’s face. They just took it.”

Recently, a doula client had been given a court order to comply with a caesarean, despite having no medical indications that it was necessary….  Read more on this episode here

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Ep. 15 – Marijuana & Pregnancy | Heather Thompson, PhD

In this episode, we talk about the world of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and marijuana use. To help make sense of this topic – and sort the science from the pearl-clutching – I brought in a special guest: Heather Thompson, PhD. Heather not only discusses the research, but helps make it relevant to worried moms and birth workers.

Heather has a doctorate in molecular and cellular biology and has worked in clinical research in maternal and infant health for 25 years. She is now Deputy Director at the reproductive justice organization Elephant Circle.

First, a note about the relevance of most drug research.

As a whole, drugs are not tested on pregnant women to see how they respond. Most drugs are tested on a “control” generally made up of white men, so those data can only ever represent the population of white men – we cannot always extrapolate drug effects onto other groups. The female metabolism, especially during pregnancy, differs greatly… Read more on this episode here

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Ep. 14 – The Problem with Implied Consent | Lawyer Hermine Hayes-Klein

In this episode of Birth Allowed Radio, we talk about what it means to say no to a procedure in the delivery room, when and if implied consent overrides refusal, and who is the boss of your body. Spoiler alert: it’s you.

This podcast is an extension of a recent article I wrote. You can check it out here.

My special guest is lawyer and birth rights advocate Hermine Hayes-Klein.

Implied consent is a concept that has become skewed, in all aspects of life on the sexual spectrum, including birth. Whether we are talking about date rapists or hospital administrators, there is a lot of misinformation about what implied consent actually means… Read more on this episode here

Listen on SoundCloud or iTunes

Episode 13 – For Doulas: Gena Kirby on Getting Dads and Partners Involved in Birth

In this episode, Cristen speaks with Gena Kirby, doula trainer extraordinaire, about her remarkable success at getting dads and partners involved in birth, mommy brain/birth brain, and how to survive a zombie apocalypse. This is a must-listen for doulas! Contact Gena at

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Episode 12 – A Lawyer on “State-Sanctioned Rape” of Arkansas Midwifery Clients

[52 minutes] In this episode, Cristen speaks with Kesha Chiappinelli, an Arkansas lawyer who represents consumers working for better midwifery regulations.  Right now, for example, the law requires a number of vaginal exams for home birth midwifery clients–something Ms. Chiappinelli describes as “state-sanctioned rape.”  Read more about this episode here, including a consumer alert for Sept. 2017



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Episode 11 – A Doula Discusses How to Advocate Without Getting Kicked Out of the Room

[56 minutes] In this episode, Cristen speaks with Traci Weafer, a Southern doula who believes that speaking up for laboring women and having great relationships with hospital staff are not mutually exclusive. As an example, she shares about the time she stopped a doctor from cutting her client when he started to do an episiotomy without consent–a doctor who later asked her to share more information about why her clients were declining episiotomies.  Traci has a wealth of knowledge and experience about bringing together everyone in the birth room to support the birthing person in an area where that can be extra challenging to do. (August 2017)



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Episode 10 – An Injured Mother/$16M Lawsuit Winner Offers Her Perspective on Doulas & Abuse

[45 minutes] “Brookwood is my Brock Turner”: In this episode, Cristen speaks with Caroline Malatesta, the Alabama mother who won a lawsuit against her hospital after she was permanently injured in a “wrestling match” with her nurses during childbirth–in a place that promised support for unmedicated birth. One piece of Caroline’s journey that she has not spoken about publicly before is how, in the aftermath of the assault, her doula and the local doula community responded to her. It’s an important perspective from a birthing mother and doula client.



“It became crystal clear to me that doulas weren’t interested in talking about my abuse, much less associating with me. After all, the relationship with my abuser was too important. This is where the trauma begins and the counseling begins, is that…. I was expecting the exact opposite. Because I naively thought doulas were advocates for women, for birthing women, not advocates for hospitals. And it stung really badly. I felt incredibly isolated and alone because of that response. And I’ve never really got over it. And frankly it almost silenced me and stopped me in my tracks right there.” – Caroline (July 2017)

Listen on SoundCloud or iTunes

Episode 9 – An OB Nurse Talks Obstetric Violence, How to Make Change

[53 minutes] In this episode, Cristen speaks with an experienced Labor & Delivery nurse about the obstetric violence she has witnessed and even participated in: “I’ve seen doctors pry women’s legs apart with their elbows… I’ve seen doctors check people [vaginally] while the women were saying, ‘no,’ …”



She also talks about advocating to change a patriarchal system: “I truly believe that the women in any given community have way more power than they realize. [They] can take over if they really put their minds to it.”  (June 2017)

Listen on SoundCloud or iTunes

Episode 8 – A Woman Records Confrontation with Hospital re: Consent, Experts Refute Hospital Defense

[1 hour, 4 minutes] In this episode, Cristen speaks with “J,” an Indiana mother who recorded the meeting with her hospital about a non-consented procedure during labor that the hospital defended as “appropriate” and “part of” routine care. We’ll hear the recording of the meeting, as well as the professional opinions of respected legal and medical experts on why the hospital’s defense is dead wrong. (June 2017)  Read more on this episode here, including the full transcript of the meeting



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Episode 7 – Georgia Mothers Fight a Hospital Monopoly

**Trigger Warning for description of non-consented episiotomy**

[52 minutes] In Episode 7, Cristen speaks with Zawn Villines, lead organizer of the community effort to push back on Dekalb Medical’s policies involving childbirth options and rights and their decision to push out a midwifery practice and doctor known for respecting patient decisions.  Katie Kissel, a local mother, shares her surprise at discovering that the head of obstetrics at Dekalb as these events transpired is the same doctor who laughed at her birth plan and gave her an episiotomy without consent during the birth of her first child in 2014. (May 2017)



More on this episode here, including the video Katie recorded while pregnant with her second baby, sharing her experience with Dr. Mandeville at her first birth.

Listen on SoundCloud or iTunes

Episode 6 – A Feminist OB Puts Her Patients in Charge & Outcomes Improve

[54 minutes] In this episode, Cristen speaks with an obstetrician who saw her practice’s Cesarean rates drop after they implemented a feminist model–putting women in charge of their own medical decisions. She also discusses her own job-related trauma and medicine’s blame culture. (May 2017)



Listen on SoundCloud or iTunes

Episode 5 – A Doula Watches Culture Shift in Alabama, Assault in Labor & Delivery

[53 minutes] In this episode, Cristen speaks with an Alabama doula about how her clients are treated in a maternity care system that is improving slowly, but still characterized by paternalism and a resistance to change.  *TRIGGER WARNING* for a description of an assault in the birth setting. (April 2017)



More about this episode here

Listen on SoundCloud or iTunes

Episode 4 – An Anti-Trust Lawyer Champions Midwives

[52 minutes] In this episode, Cristen talks with perhaps the most experienced midwifery law lawyer in the U.S. about why midwives need lawyers, as well as the David vs. Goliath struggles of families fighting hospital and medical lobbies for the right to maternity care outside of hospitals. BONUS: That time she was one of the first women lawyers to argue (and win!) a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. (April 2017)



More about this episode here

Listen on SoundCloud or iTunes

Episode 3 – A Doula Fights the System

[53 minutes] In this episode, a doula based out of New York City talks about the abuse she experiences and witnesses as she supports clients during childbirth. (March 2017)



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Episode 2 – A Kentucky Home Birth

[55 minutes] In this episode, Lexington, KY, couple Helen & Kris Nonn describe the home birth of their son, born “illegally” with Certified Professional Midwives, and talk about why they made that choice for his birth. (March 2017)



Listen on SoundCloud or iTunes

Episode 1 – Kentucky Birth Monopoly

[49 minutes] In our first episode, Cristen talks with Mary Carol Akers, a certified nurse midwife who has been fighting local hospitals for years to open an independent birth center in Kentucky; Mary Kathryn Delodder, the head of the consumer coalition working to legalize out-of-hospital midwifery in Kentucky; and a Central Kentucky couple who was turned away from two hospitals *while the mother was in labor* for wanting to have a vaginal birth after Cesarean. (February 2017)



Listen on SoundCloud or iTunes

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