Motherhood is sacred and the work of Monique Cowan, a doula, ensures that it remains that way. Focusing her practice to help Brown mamas, as a doula she works to reinstate the concept of the village must rear the babies. For her, the village must be about harmony.
What is our business?
I am a birth and postpartum family nurturing and education specialist, also known as a doula. My business is Monique the Doula.
How long have you been in business?
What made you start it?
I have always been in business with women and children. I’ve been a babysitter; I ran a daycare; a tween ministry; and an after school program. When friends gave birth, I was always there helping them out. However, I was always afraid of giving birth, myself.
When I found out I was pregnant in 2009, I was terrified. I did all kinds of research about having as pain-free of a birth as possible, and without needles and knives. In my research, I came across the term “doula” and how having one could help with pain during birth. So, I started searching for one and found a Black woman who was just so cool, calm, collected and dope. She helped me throughout my pregnancy, and even with non-pregnancy related issues.
With her help, I had a non-medicated, vaginal birth and I was so elated afterwards. From my experience, I knew this was what I was put on this earth to do: to help women in the way my doula helped me.
What makes your business special?
My main focus is postpartum because so many new mothers and parents tend to neglect themselves after birth. Mostly, they are taught that feeling exhausted and zombie-like is just part of being a parent. They do not have nor do they ask for the support they truly need. As a result, Brown mamas are out here suffering from postpartum mood and anxiety disorders and don’t even know it; and we have been for generations. Our men are, too.
So, I put emphasis on returning to what I call, Village Harmony. I am there to support the new mother, yes, but I also train extended family on how to support both of the new parents—even if the daddy is no longer romantically tied to mom.
How does your business solve a problem?
I believe I am helping to bring the family together. Where they might have been stress and strife, my goal is to bridge the gap and bring about love and harmony. I am an advocate for, the Village.
What did you find out about who you are as you built your company?
I realized that what I was striving to bring to families, in terms of support, was what I needed for me! I realized, that whatever God/Spirit/Universe puts on your heart, to give the world, is for you, first. I needed support. I needed to learn to ask for help. I needed to learn to open up to love and allow my own village to support me.
What keeps you going?
I love what I do. I am showing my daughter the normalcy of birth, breastfeeding and supporting the family. I see our community needs me and folk like me. We need to reclaim the values and skills we had aeons ago that we have forgotten and given away. I am reintroducing these things to our community.
What do you do when you get discouraged?
When I get discouraged, I remember my, “why.” I breathe. I hug my baby girl. I laugh. Because, there is humor in everything, even the pity party I throw for myself, in those times. I ask spirit and the ancestors to help me, and usually, the answer I get back is, “girl, why is you trippin’. Just keep goin’!”
How do you define success?
Joy and peace at all times. Freedom.
Who inspires you?
My child inspires me. She is my work of art. When I am not being myself, she reminds me to be better; to show her who I really am so she can have the courage to always be who she really is. I can’t ask that of her if I’m not willing to be it, myself.
Another dope thing about the dope thing you do.
I am currently part of a doula program in Los Angeles that is giving doula support to low income Black women in Los Angeles and Antelope Valley for free.
How to reach out to Monique the Doula.
Ark Republic is ending the year with a series of mixed-media stories of hope, empowerment, leadership, courage, brilliance family and affirmation. We want to enter into the New Year with a community collaboration called, “The Light Series.”
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Our first week, December 1 to December 7, we will feature stories of innovators in our communities. Next, from December 8 to December 15, we share stories of inspiration from our entrepreneurs. Afterwards, from December 16 to December 25, we explore spiritual, religious and family traditions, as well as, winter rituals. Finally, from December 26 to January 1, we will end the series with stories of affirmation and forward movement in this next cycle, 2020.
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