MAMA BIRD, INC.
Birdie Johnson was born and raised in Denver and graduated from massage therapy school in 2010. She quickly discovered she had a passion for working with pregnant women and so she also earned her Doula certification, becoming a full Spectrum Birth and Postpartum Doula.
While she loved her vocation, she discovered a void and lack of resources when she worked with families of color. This set her on a mission to create resources that would support families of color that incorporated not only health and wellness but also helped establish and maintain self-care routines.
“I started Mama Bird last year when I really started looking at my own family and realized that families of color - and these other moms - didn’t have the same resources for this kind of care,” Birdie says.
Birdie especially has a heart for moms in recovery with their babies. Her own mom was addicted to drugs and did not stay in Birdie’s life. She was raised by her dad, but watched as her brother ended up in the judicial system. “When I started my career, I fell in love with babies who were born with drugs in their system,” she said. “As a woman who did not have a mother growing up, I now work with moms trying to help them cultivate and navigate life as a mother.”
“Moms with high-risk pregnancies need love and support and they need us to set aside our biases and our opinions,” Birdie says. “Birth work is trauma work because these moms are also dealing with trauma from families, their own childhoods, and whatever they are dealing with in life now.”
Birdie explained that when a baby is born going through withdrawals, they need constant stimulation of rocking or holding them. It calms their nerves and being skin-to-skin with a parent resets the nervous system. But when you have a mom struggling with substance use with a really active nervous system, that doesn't work because the baby will reset to that. She said, “As doulas, we can actually help reset that nervous system of the baby with skin-to-skin, and it'll fall into our nervous system and calm the baby down.”
Birdie herself was a teen mom at 19 and that’s another reason she was passionate about helping other moms. “My ‘why’ is to be the resource system that I didn't have when I was a child, when I was growing up and when I became a mom. We try to connect these dots for resources for families.”
Because of the pandemic, and in an effort to reach more moms without having to travel to them, Mama Bird offers virtual doula services. “It’s all the same as coaching in person,” Birdie explained. “But if there is a partner presence then we offer a lot more partner guidance for the actual physical help.”
Birdie has eight doulas on staff and she explains that doulas assist in labor and postpartum, but another critical role they play is helping moms and partners with preparedness for birth: emotionally, physically, and mentally. “Educating and empowering moms is really the biggest thing that we do,” she said. “We are working to put different trainings in place for our doulas,” she explained. “One of the questions we ask when someone applies to be a doula is how comfortable they are working with families dealing with substance use disorder. Many are actually uncomfortable with that, and some are passionate about it, so we are working to add that specific niche to our scope of practice and helping those who are passionate about it to go deeper.”
When it comes to postpartum care, Birdie says the most important thing her group and provider can do, is to help new moms understand that the way that they feel is normal and they aren’t alone. “In the black and brown community, we're taught that we're not supposed to have those thoughts, and you're supposed to be able to raise your baby, shoulder it all, and you're not supposed to rest,” she said. “So, the biggest thing we teach mom and her support system is that she needs rest and recovery.”
Birdie notes that a very low percentage of black women report having postpartum depression and she believes that is simply because they aren’t educated on what it looks like or feels like and that they need to seek help for it.
As a massage therapist, Birdie also advocates for, and provides, ways for women of color to experience self-care and understand its benefits. “There are different types of self-care,” she explained. “There's practical, physical, emotional and mental self-care. I ask women to look at how they can spend 10 minutes per day contributing to one of those parts of their life. For emotional self-care, it might be as simple as having a good laugh, or a good cry, and I try to help them find their 10 minutes of self-care each day.”
Birdie and her team work with families for up to a year, helping them navigate challenges and learn about first-year mile markers, serving as consultants and helping moms adjust to parenthood.
“I think our society doesn't realize that we're postpartum for life. I have a son who just went to college and I thought that we need doulas for moms of college students. That’s another whole level of postpartum!”
Birdie was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She began her healing journey when she graduated from massage therapy school in 2010. It’s here she discovered she had a passion for working on and with pregnant women. A few years after graduating from Massage Therapy, she began her Doula certification. Becoming a full Spectrum Birth and Postpartum Doula was important to her to have the ability to support families from beginning to end. Although her favorite part of this profession is postpartum support, she discovered a void and lack of resources when she worked with families of color in comparison to white families. This set her on a mission to create resources that would support families of color that incorporated not only health and wellness but also help establish and maintain self-care routines. Her passion for supporting women and families in this journey is evident in the families she works with. Whether she is soothing a fussy baby, or guiding parents through their baby’s first bath at home, or helping mothers maintain a self-care routine, her mission is to awaken your full healing potential and support balance to your mind, body and spirit. She is committed to providing practical tools and soulful guidance for people to improve their physical, emotional and spiritual wellness.
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