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.
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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.”
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Episode 1 – Kentucky Birth Monopoly[49 minutes] In this 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)
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