As part of our ongoing Five Questions series highlighting local maternal/infant health champions, we are honored to feature local doula Gabrielle Simms Wade.
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What drew you to the field you’re in?
I recall watching the well known documentary, “The Business of Being Born”, in college and it lit a spark that soon turned into a fire after being able to assist a very close friend with her labor and delivery a few years later. Witnessing how she was treated by the nurses and doctors and the instinctive advocate role that I went into to protect her birthing experience, led me on a path of self guided research to figure out how I could be that same support to the birthing community. I then went on to complete formal doula training with Shafia Monroe Consulting and DONA after the call for more birth workers of color became more evident with the broadcast of data showing the black maternal health disparities.
What part of your daily work inspires you the most?
This work isn’t just a job for me, but a calling. My hope is to be a part of the change in the disproportionate outcome minority women face on a journey that is supposed to feel the most empowering. To know that I can provide tools and education to assist with this goal to birthing people and their families is a huge honor that I intend to spread to as many as I can.
How can RVA keep moving forward to become a model community for childbearing families?
I hope to see more birthing options for childbearing families in Richmond and surrounding areas. Birth does not have to be confined to the hospital and I am so glad that we are starting to see more birth center and homebirth midwives as options. Reclaiming our power in birth and having more resources for postpartum care will move us into a more progressive birthing community. COVID has put a damper on many things, but I do believe sustaining more virtual resources for families in the future will assist with this call.
If you could share one piece of wisdom with childbearing families or professionals who serve them, what would it be?
Listen to your body and listen to your patients. The intuitiveness that women and those close to them carry should be uplifted and encouraged. When something doesn’t feel right, women should have a safe space to share these feelings with their provider and the provider has a duty to listen and provide informed, evidence based support and care.
Tell us about one of your favorite accomplishments.
One of my favorite accomplishments would have to be the birth of my children. With my first, I had to advocate for my goal of an unmedicated labor and delivery from 20 weeks until the end due to possible complications that arose. With my second, I was able to accomplish my goal of a homebirth. Knowing that I had the power in my birth in both experiences was so liberating and I am forever grateful!