Momview: Starring Chantal Blake
Can you share a little bit about yourself?
In the order of how I use my time, I’m a married mom of three, Womb Wellness Educator, and writer.
How did your motherhood journey start?
My motherhood journey began shortly after joining my husband who was working in Algeria at the time. We were married for about five years at that point and were starting to question if we needed fertility support. Next thing I knew, my bloating and digestion had nothing to do with North African cuisine and everything to do with pregnancy.
What was your birthing experience(s) like?
My first birth was in a hospital in Oman. With a lot of advocacy, I evaded a near surgical birth, but I still felt mutilated and violated by the experience. When I found out I was pregnant while living in Morocco, I decided to return to the United States for a midwife-supported water birth at a birthing center. That birth was healing and affirming for me. For my last, I had the birth I’ve always wanted– an undisturbed, physiologic birth at home.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had as a mom? Do you think some of them, or all of them, could have been avoided or lessened if we had a more supportive maternal culture in America?
My biggest challenge as a mom was not realizing that I needed rest and community support to recover. My cultural lineage was severed by slavery and colonization, so my family did not remember the ways our foremothers nourished and supported new mothers. This could’ve been lessened by adopting practices from Malaysia, for example, where in-home traditional postpartum care is provided by the government. In the least, paid maternity and paternity leave, along with subsidized home birth support, midwifery and doula care, and pelvic floor therapy, as done in parts of Europe, would be a great starting point.
In your opinion, how do we evoke and incite a sisterhood of motherhood?
Reclaiming sisterhood in the modern culture of motherhood will require intention, vulnerability, and reciprocity. Sadly, many of us can’t call on women in our families to support us in a healthy way. If we want to be sisters for other mothers, we have to spend time in community, let people into our messy homes and messy lives, and give space for others to pour into ourselves and our children.
We’re well aware that deep inequality exists among moms in America. How do you think we help amplify all mom’s voices?
We have to challenge our inner biases and commit to believing mothers. When we doubt the intentions of another mother, we undermine that woman’s ability to have a voice. We also have to address how inaccessible dignified maternal care is. Every mother deserves trauma-informed, dignified care in pregnancy– our future depends on it.
Speaking of maternal inequality, how do you think we go about encouraging moms to care about other mom’s problems, even if they aren’t shared problems?
We see all children as our children. We realize the stakes are too high to not care. We also invest in efforts to provide nourishing foods, compassionate maternal and child care, as well as fair wages and benefits to families.
If you could create a new maternal culture tomorrow, what would it look like?
It would look like paid parental leave for at least one year, subsidized postpartum care inclusive of foods, bodywork, therapy, housework, childcare, etc. It would also bring community elders to new mothers to share their time, wisdom, and comfort. Essentially, we would protect moms as if our future depended on it, because it does.
We talk about how you can’t put the maternal social policy cart before the maternal connection and equality horse. Do you agree with that?
I’m imagining the two can happen in tandem. I personally have more confidence in community-based, grassroots efforts. I’m tired of waiting for policies to reflect the truth of what we already know.
What maternal social policies do you think the U.S. should have? And why?
Other than what I’ve mentioned earlier, I would add free education for all, both vocational and academic. Access to education gives access to opportunities that allow us to cultivate livelihood and self-sufficiency. Environmental policies to ensure access to safe drinking water, air, and soil is also important. We also need green spaces in urban communities, more localized economies, and sustainable energy sources. Motherhood is life and our quality of life directly impacts our quality of motherhood.