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At This Women Of Color-Run Texas Clinic, Low-Income Mamis-To-Be Receive Free Pregnancy And Birth Support

(Courtesy of Cindy Elizabeth)

Pregnancy can be one of the most intimate and transformative experiences in someone’s life. But for many low-income women of color, outside factors, like the bureaucratic hoops they have to jump through to attain government assistance, could make it one of frustration, stress and trauma. In Austin, Texas, Mama Sana Vibrant Woman helps ease the hurdles and empower Black and Latina women by offering them free pregnancy and birth support.

The nonprofit organization, which includes wellness clinics, offers expectant mothers culturally-specific assistance, like support groups, exercise classes, nutritional help, acupuncture, meditation, access to doulas and a network of midwives, as well as education on topics like prenatal care, labor positions, comfort measures and overcoming fears — all at no cost.

Beyond offering health services, the founders, all women of color who have dealt with oppressive and discriminatory systems during their own pregnancies or early child-rearing years, aim to offer a holistic approach that includes the emotional wellbeing of mothers. They hope to educate and empower women so that they know their options during the pregnancy and postpartum stages of their lives and are equipped to advocate for themselves and one another.

“For us, it was about building power to really impact how they feel about themselves and how they feel about their children and community,” Kellee Coleman, who co-founded the organization in 2012, said at a recent panel.

Mama Sana Vibrant Woman began with an all-volunteer collective of Black and Latina mothers known as Mamas of Color Rising that formed in 2008. The women all faced challenges, ranging from difficulty acquiring and maintaining Medicaid for themselves and their children to barriers in receiving and keeping food stamps and affordable housing, and wondered if their struggles weren’t unique.

(Courtesy of Mama Sana Vibrant Woman)

Their fears that the issues they experienced were widespread were confirmed by a community survey.

“We sat at various welfare centers, WIC offices and public schools during times that mothers were waiting and approached them with our community survey,” Paula X. Rojas, a member of the subgroup of Mamas of Color Rising that launched Mama Sana Vibrant Woman, told FIERCE. “We found a pattern of mothers of color facing discrimination, lack of autonomy or decision-making power during pregnancy and birth.”

The 100-plus mothers surveyed expressed feelings of alienation and disempowerment that set off chain reactions that affected them throughout parenthood.

“From there, we identified that working toward ‘birthing justice’ could serve as a key point of community intervention to address what we began to call the ‘womb-to-prison pipeline,’” she said. “We spent the following few years building collective power and organizing to make systemic change to address this form of injustice.”

According to Mama Sana Vibrant Woman, the womb-to-prison pipeline is described as children of color who are more likely to eventually end up behind bars due to social injustices and issues of inequality. The pipeline is typically described as school-to-prison, but Rojas said this can start as early as in the womb if mothers are at a disadvantage to provide their children much-needed resources.

(Courtesy of Mama Sana Vibrant Woman)

In addition to their services, the group also challenges the womb-to-prison pipeline through political advocacy. In 2012, for instance, the collective successfully advocated for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to make a “rules change” to add licensed midwives as healthcare providers under Texas Medicaid. They were disheartened, however, when most local providers chose not to implement the change, which would’ve given mothers of color an alternative option for their prenatal and labor/delivery care.  

On Thursday, Rojas, along with founders Coleman and Jeanette Monsalve, led a panel where they discussed the power of community to create change at What’s the Fix, a health care conference presented by HealthSparq and the Design Institute for Health at Dell Medical School.

“[Paula] went from being insured and treated in a nice way and having access to a clinic that was quick and inviting to, ‘Oh, you’re going to the Medicaid clinic now,’” Coleman said during the panel. “It was like night and day. The walls were gray and the people weren’t kind.”

At Mama Sana Vibrant Woman, women can either walk in or make an appointment at a wellness clinic offered one Saturday every month. The ambiance is inviting and welcoming, reminiscent of a spa, with soft music playing in the background and complimentary tea and snacks.

Women can meet with Rojas, a licensed midwife, or another midwife, who also serves as a registered nurse and nurse practitioner. Additionally, they can visit with an acupuncturist, homeopathy specialist or prenatal massage therapist.

 

(Courtesy of Mama Sana Vibrant Woman)

“These are things we know really help people maintain their health during pregnancy but are not accessible to low-income people,” Rojas said.

Women can even join a prenatal or postpartum group, which offers interactive workshops and complimentary childcare. A complete meal is served before the meetings start and each session finishes off with an exercise, typically yoga. The workout aims to help mothers manage stress while keeping their bodies healthy and ready for birth.

Complete sessions are offered in two-hour blocks, with transportation provided to those in need.  

Mothers can also take part in childbirth preparation training.

“This normally would cost hundreds of dollars for someone to get ready for birth pain. Mothers learn management techniques, position, breathing, knowing what to expect in hospital and what to prepare yourself for; know your rights and that of your partner’s if you have one,” Rojas said.

(Courtesy of Mama Sana Vibrant Woman)

Mothers can register for the groups in 16-week cycles, with classes occurring every other week. Each one is offered in Pflugerville, a suburb northeast of Austin, as well as in southeast and central east Austin, and they are available in both Spanish and English.

“I think it’s too soon to tell if we’re going to fully move the needle on what it will take as far as infant or mother mortality rates, but we’ve already seen improvement in initiation and continuation of breastfeeding and healthy birth weights,” Rojas said.

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment is giving mothers a feeling of safety and support, allowing them to let their guard down.

“When you’re pregnant, you’re supposed to let others care for you. When you have to be on the defensive, it really creates a situation that exacerbates chronic stress,” she said.

Read: How Racism And Xenophobia Harm Latinas’ Reproductive Health

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Kehlani Welcomes Baby Girl After “Hard But Powerful” Unmedicated Home Birth

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Kehlani Welcomes Baby Girl After “Hard But Powerful” Unmedicated Home Birth

R&B star Kehlani is a mommy. The singer welcomed her first child, baby girl Adeya, over the weekend.

In an Instagram post on Monday, Lani disclosed that she had an unmedicated home birth, describing the experience as both strenuous and beautiful.

“This weekend our angel arrived healthy & perfect in every way in our bathroom at home,” the 23-year-old crooner captioned a photo of a baby blanket with colorful pine trees. “Unmedicated home birth was the absolute hardest yet most powerful thing I’ve ever done. Thankful beyond words. In love beyond comparison.”

Lani, who had her first baby with guitarist Javie Young-White, talked more about her decision to have a home birth on Twitter.

“All birth is extremely hard and transformative,” she said. “Home birth is a medical decision as is hospital birth, all birth is mind blowing & powerful. … it’s a next level journey whichever way.”

While emphasizing the splendor and power of childbirth, she didn’t deny the physical pain that accompanies it.

“But I hope everyone knows no one can tell me SHIT after that because LORD…next level, no words!”

Lani said she wouldn’t be posting on social media much in order to rest and spend time with her new family but sent her gratitude to her fans for their love, support and well wishes.

Days before the birth of her child, Lani released the music video for “Butterfly,” which appears on the singer’s While We Wait mixtape that dropped last month.

Watch the video for “Butterfly” below:

Read: It’s The Beginning Of The Year And Cardi B and Selena Gomez Have Already Topped Spotify’s Most-Streamed Female Artists

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🤩 20 Remarkable Mementos You’ll See at the Selena Museum

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🤩 20 Remarkable Mementos You’ll See at the Selena Museum

In 1995, the world lost the Queen of Tejano music, Selena Quintanilla Perez. Immediately following her death, mass vigils were held around the Latinidad to honor our lost reina. After her death, fans turned to her music for consolation and relief as they mourned the musician. Even after 24 years, the superstar is still grieved and celebrated by her fans.

Festivals are held around the world each year in honor of Selena’s birthday, life and death. Murals of the Queen of Tejano still grace neighborhoods from Texas to California to Mexico. Even international brands like MAC Cosmetics, Forever 21 and Target still collaborate with Selena’s estate to bring fans new merchandise.

While these all immortalize Selena’s legacy, there’s only one museum in the world dedicated to the Queen of Tejano.

In Selena’s hometown of Corpus Christi Texas — only a few miles from her final resting place — is Q Productions. Founded in 1993, Q Productions is the actual studio Selena recorded in with her father, Abraham, and Los Dinos. While it’s still an operating studio, the big draw of the location is the Selena Quintanilla Museum. Featuring mementos, collectables and memories from the iconic Latina’s life and career, it’s a visit that every Selena fan should make.

Here are some of the remarkable artifacts you will find at the Selena Museum.

1. Selena’s red convertible

The Selena Museum

It’s now over 30 years old, but this racy red convertible was Selena’s favorite car. In fact, before she bought the 1986 Porsche, she purchased a new black Porsche hatchback instead. However, something just didn’t vibe for the Queen of Tejano and she traded that one in for this older model. It could be because it’s paint job matches the Latina’s signature red lip but this ride just says, “Selena.”

2. The entire Selena MAC makeup line

The Selena Museum

In 2016, international makeup company MAC Cosmetics launched a line inspired by Selena. The Selena MAC collection was so well received that it sold out online within HOURS. The full line is on display at the Selena Museum — sporting products with names like “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Missing My Baby” and “No Me Queda Mas.”

3. Selena’s fashion sketches

The Selena Museum

Anyone who has seen Selena knows that the musician had an incredible sense of style. She had first-hand input in her styling because she designed many of her most iconic looks. Had she not become a musician, Selena wanted to become a fashion designer. In fact, before her death, Selena had opened two boutiques — one in Corpus Christi and one in San Antonio. Another was planned for Monterrey, Mexico however it was never built. Following her death, both locations closed but you can still see the sketches that started it all.

4. Selena’s childhood dolls

The Selena Museum

It’s easy to forget that the legendary Queen of Tejano started off as a little girl, singing songs to her father’s guitar. These sweet reminders of her childhood give us a glimpse into the Selena that only her family know. The baby doll and old Raggedy Anne are toys saved by Selena’s parents and immortalized in the museum. To them, she will always be their little girl.

5. Fan mail from around the world

The Selena Museum

Selena got her start in South Texas but soon achieved stardom that reached around the world. At the Selena Museum, you’ll find devoted fan mail from places like Japan, Uruguay, Peru, Hungary and New Zealand. You can still send fan mail to Q Productions and share your own love and appreciation for Selena.

6. An original manuscript for “Selena”

The Selena Museum

Soon after Selena’s death in 1995, studios began vying for the rights to Selena’s life. The Quintanilla Family wanted to make sure Selena’s spirit was especially respected in any depiction of the departed musician. With this in mind, they became very involved in the film of her life. In 1997, “Selena” debuted to critical acclaim and would arguably be the role that made Jennifer Lopez’s career. At the Selena Museum, you’ll find an original manuscript for the screenplay that would become “Selena.”

7. Selena’s famous bustiers

The Selena Museum

Before pop stars’ became more open with baring a little skin, Selena made the bustier a staple for her wardrobe. Much to her dad Abraham’s dismay, Selena came up with design herself. The fashionista would sow sequins onto regular bras for a show-stopping look. It’s a good thing that Abe eased his anti-bustier stance. They’re further proof that Selena was a star ahead of her time.

8. Selena’s egg collection

The Selena Museum

If you’ve seen “Selena,” you know the Queen of Tejano had an odd little collection. She liked to collect eggs; specifically, Faberge eggs. The Russian treasures are a luxury that Selena adored and the singer had plenty in her collection. In case you’re curious, the collection DOES NOT include that egg ring from She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named.

9. Selena’s Grammy dress

The Selena Museum

Since fashion is such an essential part of who she was, the Selena Museum has several of the late star’s iconic outfits. One that’s exceptionally gorgeous is the Lillie Rubin white sequin dress she wore to the Grammys. You might remember that legendary scene in “Selena” with the rude boutique clerk and swarm of fans. That scene was inspired by a memorable shopping trip in Houston to buy that dress.

10. Collectable Selena dolls

The Selena Museum

Raise your hand if you had one of these babies as a kid. Selena has been memorialized in several different ways but the different collectable dolls made in her image may be the most awesome. At the Selena Museum, there is a collection of six Selena dolls — all sporting one of her signature looks.

11. The studio Selena used to record her final album

The Selena Museum

Q Productions has been a working studio since it’s opening in the 90s. To this day, it still accommodates musicians but Selena was their first ever recording artist. Infact, Selena recorded her final album — “Dreaming of You” — at Q Productions.

12. And the very microphone she used, too

The Selena Museum

Including Suzette’s first drum kit and Abraham’s prized piano, Q Productions has many treasures on display. One you’ll be able to see is the very mic Selena used to record “Dreaming of You.” The album debuted number 1 on the Billboard 200; the first ever predominantly Spanish-language album to do so.

13. The outfit from the cover of “Amor Prohibido”

The Selena Museum

One of Selena’s most iconic looks is the fierce leather and lace outfit featured on the album cover for “Amor Prohibido.” This album proved to be one of Selena’s biggest. Besides being a solid listen from start to finish, it also features hits “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Yo Me Queda Más” and “Techno Cumbia.” The popularity of this album ensured that Selena will forever be remembered for this look.

14. Selena’s Grammy

The Selena Museum

For all of Selena’s talent and popularity, she was honored with many awards in her career. The prize of that collection is the 1994 Grammy she won for Best Mexican/American Album. This Grammy made history for the first win by a female Tejano singer. There’s no telling how many more of these she would have won had her life not been cut tragically short.

15. The plaque honoring Selena’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Selena Museum

In 2017, Selena was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The ceremony drew 4,500 fans — the largest gathering to ever attend an unveiling. This plaque was presented to the Quintanilla family to commemorate the historic event and moreover recognize Selena’s legacy.

16. Buckles celebrating Selena’s Houston Rodeo preformances

The Selena Museum

Selena played the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo a total of three times. While all three concerts drew huge crowds, her 1995 appearance broke attendance records for the Houston Astrodome. Following the concerts, these commemorative belt buckles were presented to Selena to celebrate her successful shows.

17. A custom Selena guitar from the Fiesta de la Flor

The Selena Museum

Every year, celebrations of Selena’s life happen all over the world. One such event happens in Corpus Christi. Since 2014, Fiesta de la Flor — an event with music, food, a mercado and all things Chicano — has been held for Selena’s memory. At the Selena Museum, you can see a custom guitar that bares the Queen of Tejano’s face from the event.

18. Selena’s jewelry collection

As someone who lived for fashion, it’s only natural that Selena would love a good accessory. The Selena Museum has on display a large collection of jewelry owned and worn by the musician herself. Some items were gifts from loved ones like husband Chris, while others were gifted by fans.

19. Condolence letters from world figures

The Selena Museum

When Selena passed away, the whole world mourned. The loss of such a vibrant, beautiful and kind young woman was such a tragedy that even world leaders took notice. On display at the Selena Museum are several noted condolence letters from the likes of Larry King, President Bill Clinton, and then-Texas Governor George W. Bush.

20. Selena’s famous purple jumpsuit

Remember that record-breaking performance at the Houston Rodeo? Even if you’ve never seen footage of the big event, there’s no doubt that you’ve seen Selena’s look from that night. The famous purple jumpsuit she wore to the 1995 Houston Rodeo has become the most recognizable outfit from Selena’s memorable wardrobe. At the Selena Museum, you can take a selfie with it and immortalize your love for the Queen of Tejano.

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