August 30, 2021
Series: Why I Advocate - Tonya Daniel
By: Tonya Daniel | 0 Comments
Tonya Daniel, Lamaze Advocacy + Collaboration Committee Chair, shares why they advocate for parents and babies. This is a weekly series leading up to the Lamaze International 2021 Virtual Advocacy Summit on September 27-29. The virtual summit is an opportunity to connect with your fellow Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators from around the world, who will be meeting to address the most critical and timely policy issues that affect prenatal care and childbirth outcomes. In this series, blog readers will have an opportunity to meet perinatal professionals and read their personal essays on why they advocate for evidence based care, improved policies and funding that impact birth outcomes. You can find the entire "Why I Advocate" Series here. - Sharon Muza, Connecting the Dots Community Manager.
On February 7, 1999, while almost six months pregnant, I lost my second child to a preterm birth. That was one of the hardest things I ever had to endure. The months before were spent preparing for the birth, planning out how to parent two children and building my life with the love of my life were the highlights of my existence. I would have never thought that all that planning would come crumbling down in an instant.
Surrounding that experience, we questioned some of the routine procedures that were typical, that we didn’t feel necessary or were comfortable with, but kept quiet because it was “recommended.” We wondered about questions that we asked, but did not get answers to, often feeling unheard. We were enraged by the “this just sometimes happens,” and not really seeing us as a family that just lost a child. That was a truly hard time, but it became the driving force of how I do this birth work.
I started looking at what I knew and didn’t know, the systems I moved in, the people in those systems and how they all were intertwined. There were some lessons that I learned during that phase that fortunately, helped me go on to have three more healthy births and empowering birth experiences. I realized that others behind me needed to know the way too, so they hopefully would have better outcomes. I started incorporating these lessons into my classes and any professional work I do.
Know my options – This isn’t just the options that I’ve been given, but the options I had the right to explore. ALL of them. That means at times, I had to do the work of searching, learning…asking questions…digging a little deeper. It’s true, I didn’t know sometimes what I don’t know. However, if I just asked questions and followed my gut instinct, a whole world opened.
Exercise my rights; activate my voice – I have the right to ask questions and say yes or no; but I needed to know the ramifications of my decisions. I am an active participant in my healthcare and every aspect of my life. I had to learn how to speak up for my wants and needs. Be informed in the true sense of the word – what the benefits and risks are to the options I’ve been given and decisions I made. Only then was I making a truly informed choice. That is MY right to be able to do that.
Move forward in confidence – Sometimes decisions my husband and I made weren’t popular, but if they worked for us and our family, we had to move forward in confidence. If we’ve done all we could do – gotten insights/advice, researched, etc. – and we felt it’s the best decision for us, then grab your support team, hold tight to them, and move forward. In the end, it’s all about us and how we can make this the best experience possible.
These are the three basic things I live by, not just in birth but in my life. As I continued to work with families as a birth professional, I realized a lot of people were missing these and leaving their birth and postpartum experiences feeling less empowered, if not empowered at all. The missing link was them having this resolve and finding people who could support – both in their community, family and professionally. With all the infant and maternal mortality issues that arise, the health and racial inequities, the challenges of our healthcare system and the lack of listening to the consumer voice, people need to know they STILL have options. They STILL have a voice. They STILL have a choice. I want people to know that in all, there are ways to exercise that freedom. They can not only survive, but truly THRIVE. My motivation is to help get them there…this is why I advocate.
About Tonya Daniel
Tonya Daniel is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, DONA Certified Birth Doula and Trainer and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant residing in North Carolina. She and her husband are the parents of five children, three thriving young adults, one teen and one “angel motivator”. She began working with expectant and parenting families in 2000 and is passionate about providing labor support, childbirth education and lactation services to women in her North Carolina community, especially those in areas of limited resources or access. She also partners with like-minded individuals and local health departments, hospitals, and private institutions to increase the number of doulas and breastfeeding advocates in areas at risk for high maternal and infant mortality. Tonya enjoys traveling, exploring historical places, and spending time with family.
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