Provide Doula Care To Teen Survivors

by The Firecracker Foundation
Provide Doula Care To Teen Survivors
Doula M prepares to drop off postpartum essentials
Doula M prepares to drop off postpartum essentials

New skills for the new year! One of our priorities as birthworkers is to create a safe space for pregnant and parenting teens and their families to learn. The 5 Love Languages is a tool we share with clients to help them think about different ways to communicate care and support. 

J has a really strong partner. Her baby was fairly large, so she birthed via c-section. Collaborating with her TFF Doula, these are the ways J’s partner practiced The 5 Love Languages through her labor and, later, as she recovered at home: 

  • Love Language #1: Words of Affirmation. During the birthing process, her partner offered comforting reassurance:: “You are strong. You are capable. Your body was made for this.” 
  • Love Language #2: Acts of Service.  While she is nursing, J’s partner makes sure she is nourished by bringing her favorite iced prickly pear tea along with fresh fruit. Tending to household chores, like doing laundry and emptying the dishwasher, is a tremendous help to new parents who are often sleep-deprived.
  • Love Language #3: Gifts.  We often think of giving gifts in the form of material items. But, one of the best gifts for a new mom is the gift of time — whether to take a long shower and do a body scrub, read a book or go for a walk with friends.. In this case, J’s partner arranged for a sitter so that they could enjoy a movie date to  see the latest  Black Panther film. 
  • Love Language #4: Quality Time. Making time for connection as new parents is important for building a strong family. When the baby goes down for a nap, J and her partner watch a few episodes of their favorite anime while snuggling on the couch. 
  • Love Language #5: Physical Touch. Back soreness is common for nursing moms whose  posture  changes to accommodate  feeding and carrying their growing baby. Partners can help relieve muscle tension by offering regular  massages or creating a D-I-Y warm compress from a sock filled with warm rice. With care like this from her partner, J has now been able to breastfeed for 4 months.

Your kindness has allowed us to build strong families by providing full spectrum doula care from labor support to respite care during the crucial postpartum period. Our sincere thanks! 

Nursery organization for an expecting family
Nursery organization for an expecting family
Lactation support visit means pumped milk for baby
Lactation support visit means pumped milk for baby
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After her own journey with the Perinatal Advocacy + Labor Support (PALS) Program, Bree felt compelled and inspired to become a birthworker too. 

The work we do is fueled by stories about birthing people like Bree. 

As the new mother of a 6 month old infant who is currently breastfeeding and supporting her other child, Bree is making bold dreams for her future. She has asked me tons of questions about how to become a doula and is planning to complete training for birth, postpartum, and childbirth education.

You are funding the future of birthwork.

Thanks to the network that TFF has been building in the local area, I have lots of doulas and lactation counselors that can help me offer guidance to Bree in her role as a parent and as she moves toward a future career as a birthworker. 

It has been a pleasure connecting her and other clients with a community that values education, evidence-based care, and centering the voices of birthing folks.

You are funding a program with generational impact. 

Beyond providing perinatal advocacy + labor support, you are restoring hope, creating pathways for healthier futures, and disrupting intergenerational trauma.

I have no doubt that Bree will be a wonderful birthworker. She plans to attend full spectrum doula training later this year.

Who knows? Maybe someday she'll be writing these reports instead of me.

Wouldn't that be amazing?

With hope,

Domonique

PS - Just the other night, another Firecracker baby was born and we are still celebrating.

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Domonique with a care package for a TFF client.
Domonique with a care package for a TFF client.

My name is Domonique Brace and I am the new interim coordinator for the Perinatal Advocacy & Labor Support (PALS) program on the Firecracker team. 

I like to call birthwork soul work. 

I have worked in social services for over 10 years but I started my personal trek into birthwork in 2020. I am incredibly passionate about the postpartum period (12 weeks after delivery) of birthwork. It is a time for centering families, helping them with nourishment and systems like diapering, lactation, babywearing -- all of which happen at The Firecracker Foundation.

This work is fueled by my desire to reduce maternal health disparities and provide support for parenting teens. Amplifying their voices during labor + delivery and making sure they have the resources and support they need after their baby is born is essential to the work that we do. 

Your generous donations make it possible for my birthwork to be responsive to the needs of the birthing people I am supporting.

For example, in the past month, birthwork has looked like this:

  • helping a first time mom give her slippery newborn a bath
  • cleaning out the refrigerator to make room for comforting meals
  • creating a gingerbread house frosting masterpiece to provide sibling support to a mom with other children (see attached photo)

All these things are meaningful to the growth and development of parenting skills and building family dynamics. All of these things are possible because of your incredible kindness.

Thank you for all you do!

Gingerbread house making.
Gingerbread house making.

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Staff celebrating at the Soulfire Gala 2021
Staff celebrating at the Soulfire Gala 2021

You have gotten us through tough times.

Are you curious about what it's been like for us to work through a global pandemic?

In the video below, you can watch Connie and Ash reflect on the challenges of 2021, what they're most proud of, and what's next for their work at The Firecracker Foundation

"It has been really amazing working for an organization that is dedicated to the wellness of not just our clients but also to us as the people who are providing care."

Connie Perkins is the Program Director + Lead Midwife for the Perinatal Advocacy Program and Ash Meadow is the Operations Administrator giving all of the behind-the-scenes magic that keeps this organization afloat. 

While we continue to be limited by the ever-changing conditions of a global pandemic, we have still been able to provide:

  • pre/postpartum care to pregnant and parenting teens (including catching 6 babies!)
  • cultivating a network of doulas
  • providing free Plan B, condoms, and diapers
  • ongoing training and professional development 

While we may need to change course way more than any of us would like, we are able to move at a pace that keeps us well because of donors like you who value careworkers

Thank you for your generosity + care!

PS - If you want to see more videos from the Firecracker team, be sure and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Derrick + Baby Gathering Calendula
Derrick + Baby Gathering Calendula

Maya's birth did not go according to plan.

After months of planning a homebirth, creating a birth plan, attending private Child Birth Education classes, and even meeting with a Lactation Counselor prenatally, everything changed. 

Maya needed an emergency C-section at 41 weeks. 

You made sure that she wasn't alone.

You matched Maya with a doula who had also been a teen parent. They met many times during her pregnancy. She received empowering prenatal care from her midwife and her doula. Even though her birth did not happen in the way she had planned, it wasn’t traumatic or terrible. It was just different. She had this to say about the experience:

"It was not what I planned but super great.”

The care you provide at The Firecracker Foundation goes beyond the birth. Maya is at high risk for postpartum mood disorders so your Lead Midwife, Connie Perkins is keeping a well-trained eye on her progress. Connie and her husband with their new baby tied to his back spent time gathering herbs from the Firecracker garden to prepare an herbal sitz bath for Maya's healing body.

Enjoy the attached wholesome photos! 

Even better, although she originally wanted to breastfeed for just the first day, maybe, Maya is still exclusively breastfeeding at 4 weeks postpartum!

Connie shared these reflections about Maya's progress:

"Maya is doing amazing and navigating her transition to motherhood well.  She reports being “so in love with my baby, I get it now”. 

Maya is just one of six pregnant people currently benefitting from trauma-informed, culturally responsive midwifery care at The Firecracker Foundation. 

Thank you for all you have contributed to the growth and development of this necessary program. None of this would be possible without you. 

With love,

Tashmica Torok

PS - In response to the Covid-19 crisis, Women Strong International has made our funding unrestricted. While we will continue to center the needs of BIPOC youth, we can now extend services to all pregnant and parenting teens and young adults under the age of 24.

Connie holding a bowl of fresh calendula
Connie holding a bowl of fresh calendula
Dried herbs for sitz bath
Dried herbs for sitz bath

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Organization Information

The Firecracker Foundation

Location: Holt, MI - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @FirecrackerFdn
Project Leader:
Tashmica Torok
Holt, MI United States
$16,842 raised of $23,300 goal
 
305 donations
$6,458 to go
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