Our Mission Statement
BRING PERINATAL WORKERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD TOGETHER TO LEARN AND SERVE IN RURAL MATERNITY CLINICS IN TANZANIA AND ECUADOR. PARTICIPANTS GAIN HANDS-ON SKILLS AND INSIGHT THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THEIR PRACTICES AND CAN THEN BE SHARED WITH THEIR RESPECTIVE COMMUNITIES.
Wombs of the World was founded in 2018 by a pair of doulas eager to travel the world and learn from foreign birth cultures. What started as two friends traveling turned into what we are today.
When people ask us how we became connected with certain people or places, the answers are so random the best response is to give it up to God, or Spirit, or Mother Earth, or some mystical higher power that believes in improving maternal health worldwide with more access to compassionate educated support.
Some of our connections were made over a decade ago during a study abroad program in Ecuador or from a google search, others from seeking a translator on Facebook who introduced us to the midwives in her small community. Mostly, we have been following green lights and trusting in our mission.
Core Company Values
Self-Awareness and Accountability
Social and Reproductive Justice Advocacy
Dedicated to Evolvement
Value Diversity and Individuality
Wombs of the World define diversity as individuality. This individuality may include a wide spectrum of attributes like personal style, age, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, language, physical ability, religion, family, citizenship status, socioeconomic circumstances, education and life experiences.
Wombs of the World celebrates the spectrum of identities in perinatal spaces. We recognize that birth work is political work, it is advocacy, and it does lead to change.
We acknowledge that society associates parenting with exclusively cis-gendered heterosexual relationships and women. While birthing women (and those who self-identify as women) are deeply affected by the patriarchal system in which we birth and learn about our bodies, we are COMMITTED to including our LGBTQIAP+ friends because this exclusive hetero-normative language is harmful. This community is already deeply marginalized in reproductive health and wellness. Our role in revolutionizing perinatal health includes recognizing the oppression that this community has felt in their pursuit of happiness.
In referring to perinatal people, we will use the words woman, person, mother, mama, parent, individual, folks, people, birthers, and any new or old language that is brought to our attention to create a safe and accessible place for all members of our community.
We also recognize that the word “doula” with its origin in the Greek language, translates to “woman servant” or “woman slave”. Slave is definitely not a word that we want to incorporate into our work, or put upon our participants. Further, the word is gendered - and we know that not all doulas are women. However, the word doula is widely acknowledged and gaining further international recognition. Therefore we will continue using the word but also offer other terms such as perinatal worker, birth-worker, birth keeper, or reproductive specialist.
Some of the countries we travel to are not safe for all identities, as the LBGTQIAP+ community is often prosecuted. Wombs of the World is committed to offering safe travel experiences to all participants while respecting different laws and cultures. Within our program, our participants are safe to be wholly themselves.
We are always committed to growth and welcome feedback and conversation on improving inclusion in this space.
Anti-Racist Birthwork Statement
We are actively working towards reversing the racist structures that our society and the birth world has been built upon. Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) have had their land stolen, generations of labor erased, as well as lost heritage because of societal structures and systems that have continued to dismiss their wisdom and oppress them.
This oppression continues to be present and is evidenced in the birth world through systemic, structural and institutional racism in addition to abysmal maternal and neonatal mortality rates.
We are committed to making Wombs of the World accessible for BIPOC birth workers by offering scholarships. We are also committed to educating our participants on how to be accomplices* (allies) in the fight for reproductive justice and how to be an anti-racist birthworker.
*Wombs of the World intentionally uses the term accomplice to refer to shared advocacy work Instead of being in the sidelines of the fight against racism, we are dedicated to being on the frontline of social change.
Dismantling Toxic Volunteer-Tourism & Medical Colonization
"Any western medical institution more than a century old and which claims to stand for peace and justice has to confront a painful truth — that its success was built on the savage legacy of colonialism." -Richard Horton
Wombs of the World is not volunteer work. It is an education program where participants pay to grow their skills and to bask in the beauty of different cultures. It is imperative the recognize the harm of volunteer tourism on communities. We tell participants if you want to have the most significant possible impact, donate the money you are investing in this trip directly to the clinics they will be serving in. This is an opportunity for our participating birth workers to grow and benefit from all facets of the experience.
We actively strive to be the most mindful travelers we can be, investing directly into communities and local non-profits, partnering with midwives and clinics, and dismantling any notions of saviorism.
We see firsthand how western medical professionals can enter spaces and immediately try to teach, or criticize how things are done. This perpetuates cycles of colonialism and classism.
As non-medical birth professionals, we aim to offer compassionate care to laboring people. We are not in a position to teach or impose our ideologies on our hosts. If there is an opportunity to share evidence-based information (such as the benefits of skin-to-skin), we do so with tremendous respect and humility.
Cultural Appropriation vs Cultural Appreciation
As doulas, we are first and foremost of service in our local communities.
However, there is so much to be gained from travel and cultural immersion. The question, however is how to respectfully integrate what we have learned abroad?
This is a question we regularly ask the midwives and healers in Ecuador. How can we share their teachings and ancestral knowledge with our communities while honoring them?
If we learn how to rebozo, we will whisper a prayer of gratitude to these women and their lineage.
If we offer to “close the bones”, we will share with our clients who we learned this from.
If we make an herbal bath for a postpartum person, we will thank the plants for their powers, and simply be conduits to their medicine.
The midwives in Ecuador are eager to share their knowledge as it is a dying art. Times are changing and their children are going to school and moving to cities. The youngest midwife in the community for many years was Lucmila (who is now in her fifties), and luckily her daughter Martha (in her thirties) has stepped in hoping to revive the sacred birth wisdom.
In return for their teachings, with financially compensate them. We have created reoccurring and sustainable income for this community.
And we also hope that their children are curious as to why groups of foreigners keep traveling to visit and learn from grandma, and that they too may want to preserve the magic.
In Tanzania, the biggest question is how to break cycles of colonization as groups of foreigners. Medical colonization is still very real, and we see doctors coming into the clinics as teachers and continuing this cycle of hierarchy and therefore oppression.
This is the beauty of doula work. We are there to serve. To spoil the laboring people and love on the nurses. We strive to make their days brighter and to humbly learn from them. The nurse midwives at the clinics regularly offer us opportunities to step out of our scope of practice (just unaware of its limitations), and we get to tell them no- you show me. You teach me.
We also financially compensate the clinics for allowing us to be there.
In 2019 we fundraised and purchased an untrasound machine for the Karatu District Hospital.
We had many more plans around creating local doula training and sponsoring doula support at these clinics but the pandemic halted our plans.
The founders of Wombs of the World strive to prioritize social equity and cultural competency. We are always open to feedback and conversation to improve our impact. Please reach out if you would like to talk.