She was born and raised in New York, and moved to California in 1964. She was very active in the civil rights movement, Vietnam anti-war movement, and anti-apartheid movement, as well as being a community activist in the Berkeley Unified School District. She has three children and 10 grandchildren.
Maddy tells us the story of her daughter’s and granddaughter’s death in the hospital when an induction using Cytotec (misoprostol) was used. We will also explore maternal mortality statistics.
Catrice Harris is a wife, mother, and grandmother, who has been supporting families with childbirth education, labor and birth, and lactation support since 1992. Her initial lactation training was through The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and City of Houston WIC Programs. Childbirth education came next as she began teaching Lamaze classes to expectant families, birth moms, and adopting parents. In 2012, began working as a birth and postpartum doula, becoming certifed through DONA and ICEA. As a recipient of the BIRTH midwifery scholarship for a woman of color, she is now enrolled in the National College of Midwifery, with the goal of graduating as a Certifed Professional Midwife (CPM) this summer. She teaches parenting education classes at the Woman’s Hospital of Texas and is apprenticing with Stephanie Palacio at Bay Area Community Birth Center. Having supported almost 300 women with the birth of their babies, she is truly grateful that this work found her!
Vero Pertuso is originally from Venezuela, where she went to college and graduated as a clinical psychologist. When she moved to the United States, she wanted to combine all her psychology knowledge with her passion for the birth and maternity world, so she began her journey to become a birth worker. That was the best decision she has ever made, she said. Currently she is certifed as a wellness and health fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum coach and a birth and postpartum doula. In 2018 she started her own practice, BREATHE Body•Mind•Spirit, in which she helps, guides, and empowers people through and at any stage of the entire journey of pregnancy and postpartum, both in English and in Spanish. She cannot be more passionate, driven, and committed to her work, or how she calls it, her mission in this life. Vero is in love, engaged, and soon to be married this year. She loves to cook and eat, to laugh out loud, and to be outdoors.
Melissa Nealy is a homeschooling mother of three wonderful children, two of whom were born at home. She has a fantastic husband, Dan, who facilitates the pursuit of her passions, three guinea pigs, four cats, one mealworm, and various insects her children have decided are pets (who live in the backyard mostly). She is a doula, an International Board Certifed Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), and a student midwife. Her first career was as an elementary music teacher; she found her passion for birth work a year prior to conceiving her first child and stayed home after her oldest daughter was born. She became a La Leche League leader and continued to seek out education about all things birth. Melissa has loved getting to know the other amazing people who came together to present this play.
Kelley Ellis is a labor/birth doula who previously spent 17 years in the offshore oil and gas industry as a structural engineer. She is married to her Sunday School sweetheart and they have three boys, two born by cesarean and the third was a successful vaginal birth after two cesareans (VBA2C). When her career in the oil industry evaporated, she turned her knowledge and passion gained through her own birth experiences into a new more rewarding career and doesn’t miss the corporate world at all. In her spare time, Kelley trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and shuttles her boys around to various sports and school events.
Hear all about the upcoming play, BIRTH – one of the cast members will tell us what the play is about.
Eleanor Prado is a mother of two girls and one fur-baby. Eleanor was a high school teacher for 8 years before transitioning to become a full time doula. With degrees in theology and anthropology, Eleanor is passionate about the history of birth in America, inclusion and diversity, and how science and technology continues to advance in all birth settings. As the publicist for BIRTH, she works to build community because all people deserve unconditional support as they become parents.
Dr. Devin English, a researcher and and educator with the Rutgers School of Public Health shares his recent research to investigate intersectional discrimination, coping, and bio-psychosocial outcomes among adolescent Black youth. The research examines frequencies and psychological effects of daily racial discrimination experienced individual, vicariously, online, offline, and through teasing.
Dr. English earned his BA in Psychology from Macalester College and his PhD in Clinical/Community Psychology from the George Washington University. His predoctoral research was partially funded by a three-year NIDA F31 grant examining daily racial discrimination measurement and modelling its longitudinal effects on psychosocial outcomes among Black American adolescents and adults. He subsequently completed his postdoctoral research at Hunter College of the City University of New York where his research focused on examining the health effects of intersectional racial and sexual identity discrimination among Black queer men.
Catrice Harris – doula, apprentice midwife, childbirth educator – tells us about African American midwifery history and reports on new maternal mortality statistics and the risk factors for Black and Native American women. How can we and healthcare professionals implement changes to address socioeconomic and cultural barriers that contribute to healthcare disparities in African Americans and other minority populations?
Catrice Harris is a wife, mother, and grandmother, who has been supporting families with childbirth education, labor and birth, and lactation support since 1992. Her initial lactation training was through The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and City of Houston WIC Programs. Childbirth education came next as she began teaching Lamaze classes to expectant families, birth moms, and adopting parents. In 2012, she began working as a birth and postpartum doula, becoming certified through DONA and ICEA. As a recipient of the BIRTH midwifery scholarship for a woman of color, she is now enrolled in the National College of Midwifery, with the goal of graduating as a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) this summer. She teaches parenting education classes at the Woman’s Hospital of Texas and is apprenticing with Stephanie Palacio at Bay Area Community Birth Center. She has been a previous guest on Whole Mother and she has been a cast member of the play BIRTH for several years and also a BIRTH Fair volunteer for several years. Having supported almost 300 women with the birth of their babies, and countless more with breastfeeding, she is truly grateful that this work found her!
Dawn Koufakis-Basel is a life coach and co-author of Setting Boundaries as Women, a 14-step process for setting healthy boundaries in our lives. She is a speaker, workshop facilitator and former teacher. She offers her 8-week Setting Loving Boundaries course several times a year. Find out more at her Precipice Life Coaching website, Instagram and Facebook. She has raised two amazing young men who have graduated college and are taking steps into the next stages of their lives.
Shazia Ashraf is proud single mom to three beautiful and active boys and comes from an interfaith and interracial family. She is a chaplain in training and Operations Director for the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.
LaToya Shields, BSW, MPA, LCDC-I, has been in the social service field for well over 15 years. She currently holds the position of Manager of the Specialized Programs and Services Department at The Council on Recovery. Her work includes the Healthy Women Houston initiative, which is a collaborative effort that hones in on care coordination for women at risk of maternal mortality and morbidity in unique communities.
Lorissa Eichenberger, MFT, PMH-C, associate director of The Center for Postpartum Family Health, talks about traumatic birth and supporting the mental wellness of mothers and their families. How does a mother know she needs help? How does she know she has experienced a traumatic birth? What are some of the obstacles our society tell us about mothering? And much more.
Lorissa Eichenberger received her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Houston-Clear Lake in 2010. A self-described “birth nerd,” she began her journey into motherhood in 2008 with the birth of her first of four children. As new parents without family locally, it was a struggle for her and her husband to find resources for mental health support following a traumatic birth. So, Lorissa joined local birth/breastfeeding groups, and she subsequently attended trainings for doula and lactation support to further enhance her professional capacity as a therapist. Lorissa then chose to specialize her practice and focus her passion by supporting the mental wellness of mothers and their families in the Greater Houston area. Lorissa is a member of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN), the Houston Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (HAMFT), and the Texas Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (TAMFT). She is recognized by Postpartum Support International as a Certified Perinatal Mental Health Specialist (PMH-C) with advanced training and experience working with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs). She periodically speaks with local moms’ groups and presents at international conferences each year on PMADs.
Rebecca L. Dekker, PhD, RN, LCCE, is the founder and CEO of Evidence Based Birth®, and author of the bestselling book, Babies Are Not Pizzas: They’re Born, Not Delivered.
Dr. Dekker received her Master of Science in Nursing and her Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing from the University of Kentucky. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Dr. Dekker has built a strong reputation in maternal and infant health circles for her pioneering work as the founder of Evidence Based Birth. The mission of EBB is to raise the quality of childbirth care globally, by putting accurate, evidence based research into the hands of families and communities, so they can make informed, empowered choices.
Dr. Dekker serves as a peer reviewer for maternal health research journals, volunteers on the advisory boards for Improving Birth and DONA International, and has presented to a number of leading organizations in the childbirth field, including the American College of Nurse Midwives, the March of Dimes, the American Association of Birth Centers, Lamaze, and DONA International. Dr. Dekker is also a board-certified adult clinical nurse specialist (ACNS-BC), an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), and a Lamaze-Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE).
In May 2012, Dr. Dekker realized that it was very difficult for the average person to find information about evidence-based maternity care. Realizing that she had the research and writing skills to meet this need, Dr. Dekker coined the term “Evidence Based Birth®” and founded www.evidencebasedbirth.com.