Last Thursday September 24, Arcus Center held an event entitled “Nurturing Resilience: A Conversation About Doulas and Diapers in Kzoo,” led by Jax Lee Gardner, a Kalamazoo College faculty member. Students, staff, community leaders, and anyone else were invited and had the chance to learn more about the need for doulas and diapers in the Kalamazoo area.
Gardner specifically focused on this need in communities of color, which she hopes will bring down the infant mortality rate of black babies. “The goal for Kalamazoo is to bring infant mortality down to 6 deaths per 1000 births by 2020,” Gardner stated during her presentation.
The presentation first focused on what a doulas is and the kinds of opportunities and support they can provide within their community. Gardner, a certified Birth Doula for Birth Kalamazoo, made it clear that a doula is “not a midwife.”
The definition of a doula according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is “a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth.”
“[A doula] is there to escort a mother and baby through a process that may be very foreign,” explained Gardner.
Gardner talked about the need for a greater representation of diversity within the doula community so as to reach out to and support people of color.
As a goal for the post-presentation discussion, Gardner wanted to examine “opportunities for doulas in Kalamazoo to better serve women and families who might not otherwise choose a doula and/or be in a position to afford to hire a doula out-of-pocket.”
In addition to the discussion of the need for doulas, Gardner talked about the need for diapers not only in Kalamazoo, but also in the rest of the country.
“Diapers are a basic need for kids,” she stated, going on to describe the issue that families have with being financially unable to provide their children with clean, dry diapers. Using six diapers a day ends up costing $1000 a year. She described a need for more diaper banks and asked the audience to brainstorm how Kalamazoo might be able to provide more of them.
Gardner expressed her hope that those who would like to help should donate to the St. Luke’s Community Diaper Drive, which started September 14th and goes until October 14th.
“The diaper drive is not a fix, it’s a first step,” she clarified.
They are collecting diapers of all sizes, wipes, diaper creams, and financial donations. The donation box locations are St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, St. Luke’s Thrift Shop, and K college sites including Dewing Hall, Hicks Center, and Arcus Center. Gardner urges everyone to get involved in this important issue.