I met Takeallah about a year ago through the feminist community and have really enjoyed following her professional and personal journey as a business owner. I think the work she is doing at Burning Bra Services is much needed and extremely fascinating so I had to sit down with her and ask her more about her passion, motivation, and what she has learned along the way. Here is what I found out!
You are the owner of Burning Bra Birth Services can you tell us about your company and why you were inspired to start it?
Burning Bra Birth Services is a feminist, pro-choice, sex-positive organization that specializes in reducing racial, ethnic, and economic disparities in reproductive healthcare through full-spectrum doula support and education. Specifically, Burning Bra Birth Services caters to Women of Color, Survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, disabled individuals, LGBTQIAP individuals, and low-income individuals.
Burning Bra Birth Services was born along with my son in April 2013! After experiencing a surprise and unplanned pregnancy, I battled severe depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety. Faced with a tumultuous pregnancy, riddled with financial hardship, homelessness, emotional abuse, and the loss of my grandmother, as well as the immense pressure of being responsible for another human being’s life and health, I began to extensively research every aspect of parenting and became incredibly intrigued with maternal health, childbirth, and non-violent parenting. I also became very disgruntled with health disparities and social issues facing non-white parents and infants. I have a “take-charge” attitude, so I decided to complain, spread the word, and start a business to help create change!
I know that a lot of your mission has to do with allowing women the access to health care at any income level. Can you speak to us more about this passion?
Upon conducting research during my pregnancy, I discovered that low income women and Women of Color were less likely to have access to doula support, postpartum doula support, abortions, breastfeeding education, and midwifery care. Not having access to these is directly correlated with poverty, homelessness, mental illnesses, higher Cesarean Section rates, infant mortality rates, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Rates, and lower breastfeeding rates. As a low-income, single mother, survivor, and Woman of Color, I realized that I was facing multiple risks during my pregnancy, which was extremely frightening. I strongly feel that utilizing my personal experiences along with my education to reach out to others facing similar situations would greatly improve these issues and help create healthier women, families, and babies!
Whats the best and hardest part about running your own business?
The best part of running my own business is being able to do everything exactly the way that I want, from the website design to the business cards! I don’t have to consider anyone else’s opinions, likes, or dislikes, which is extremely liberating for a rebellious, independent person like me. I am also super Type-A, so I don’t have to worry about managing anyone else or being managed by anyone else.
The hardest part is juggling everything. Aside from running Burning Bra Birth Services, I am also a student, single mother, full-time employee at a nonprofit, and freelance writer. Balancing all of my duties and responsibilities with limited time can be extremely overwhelming. There are plenty of days where I get home from work, picking my son up from daycare, and running errands at 7pm, rush to prepare dinner, do bathtime, story time, and bedtime for my son, and stay up until 3am writing articles, managing my client database, and doing schoolwork. Then I have to pop back up at 5am to get ready for the day all over again. I also suffer from insomnia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Depression, which also play huge roles in my day and ability to function properly at times. Many nights, I feel extremely overwhelmed and cry for hours after my son goes to bed. But, once I let all of my frustrations out through crying and journaling, I feel a lot better! I always keep in mind that these are temporary struggles necessary for a huge payoff.
What advice do you have for women who are interested in getting into birth services?
Explore various options as a birthworker and identify your long-term goals. There are so many different avenues into birthwork, and it can be overwhelming! I would suggest identifying which role(s) suit your lifestyle, desires, and abilities best and go for it/them at full speed! I also feel that it is very important to have a sense of community- reach out to local organizations, other local birthworkers, and reproductive health activists. Most importantly, I would suggest choosing some self-care activities and make time for them on a regular basis. Birthwork/Reproductive health activism can be extremely draining, and you don’t want to suffer from compassion fatigue early on in your career. Taking care of yourself is number one before you can take care of others.
Any social media plugs or other info you want our readers to know about?
Yes, definitely! Please feel free to follow me on Twitter @TheBurningBra, on Instragram @BurningBraDoula, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Takeallah and ‘like’ Burning Bra Birth Services Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BurningBraBirths. I post compelling content daily and would love to interact with other feminists, doulas, and activists!