Podcast

Childbirth is supposed to be empowering, but for many birthing people, it is not. For Indigenous women, immigrant women, and women of colour, birthing within the western healthcare system can be anything but affirming. It can feel unsafe. In this raw and challenging talks series, I host conversations about birth, racism, and cultural safety with changemakers working within the birthing sector to break down the structures built on colonisation.
Credits: The artwork for the show comes from Atong Atem and was designed by Ethan Sang. Raquel Solier composed our music. Our sound design is by our editor Olivia Smith. I am grateful to John Tjhia for producing Series 2 and 3, and Nicola Harvey from Pipi Films for Series 1.

This podcast is written, hosted and produced by Ruth De Souza on the unceded lands of the Boon wurrung people of the Eastern Kulin Nations with support from RMIT University VC Fellowship funding.

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Credits

Series 3
Listen to the trailer here
Recorded on the Bass Coast on the traditional lands of the Boon wurrung
Artwork by Atong Atem
Design by Ethan Tsang
Title music by Raquel Solier
Produced and edited by Jon Tjhia

Series 2
Listen to the trailer here
Recorded on the Bass Coast on the traditional lands of the Boon wurrung
Artwork by Atong Atem
Design by Ethan Tsang
Title music by Raquel Solier
Produced and edited by Jon Tjhia

Series 1
Series 1 recorded at Windmill Studios in Melbourne on the traditional lands of the Eastern Kulin Nation
Sound design and mix by Regan McKinnon
Artwork by Atong Atem
Design by Ethan Tsang
Title music by Raquel Solier
Produced and edited by Pipi films.

Podcast feedback:

I finally got to listen to [Karel’s] podcast this morning – it is great and I learned a lot! Loved hearing [her] thoughts on cultural safety as the final stop on the continuum of care, the limitations of cultural awareness lens, the impacts of birthing on country and the birthing in our community model, the links to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the future of midwifery. What a rich, integrated and accessible resource that podcast is!
Jenny Hutt, Australia

Ruth, I’ve only just gotten around to listening to this episode 🙈.
My gosh! IT WAS AWESOME. Not only is Nisha awesome but it got me right in the feels too. 🥺 Her point about birthing culture in India/ Indian society deeply resonated. I was so lucky to have Mum arrive here both times after my birth to care for me & bub for a few months. It kept me this side of sanity. As well as her observations on the experience of diverse professionals here. Calling it like it is ✊🏾 Her thoughts on diversity, racism & leadership were eerily relevant to my profession. Her words have given me greater resolve to continue my small efforts to be visible in my profession so that it will be easier for the next person. 🙏🏾 Loved all the questions you put forward and for always making sure that non-medical listeners can understand too. 💕🙏🏾
Sonia Sarangi Australia

Everyone associated with birthing care needs to listen to this podcast, especially those working in colonised countries.
Dr Pauline Dawson (midwife) NZ

Thanks for all your work. It’s provoked me to rethink the limits of both my reproductive politics and biopolitics. The podcast has introduced me to a lot of new ideas and thinkers I would otherwise not have encountered. I’m definitely gonna use this in my courses!
Gilbert Caluya Australia

If you work in health ( not just birthing) and are interested in anti-racism work this is podcast is outstanding
Bee Westenra Aotearoa

Listening to Ruth’s moving interview with Habiba took me back nearly 40 years to when I gave birth to my first child. My own mother had died early in my pregnancy, and my maternal grandmother died the day my baby was due. Habiba’s account of the Somali customs around caring for the new mother brought me to tears. The loneliness and isolation I experienced in those early months as I navigated the profound changes that birthing initiates was shattering. To grieve for my mother at a time when I had never needed mothering more was a cruel introduction to my own mothering. I cannot even imagine how devastating it would have been to be torn from my culture as well. A mother’s group such as Habiba runs, where mothers are embraced as they are; without the concern for presenting their ‘best selves’, which is so exhausting and such a waste of precious energy, would have been life-changing for me. I can only marvel at the healing that Habiba’s work must be providing for so many. I only wish she’d been around when I needed her! Thank you Habiba and Ruth for helping me to soothe and heal my wounded maternal self, realising another layer of what a trial I survived. May all mothers be blessed with the compassionate care that Habiba offers.
Maree, Australia

Ruth DeSouza listening to your wonderful podcast ‘birth and justice’. Loving your open intelligent hosting style and that you still intersperse your own knowledge to take the conversation to a deeper place which allows for both nuance and depth. Thank you for creating a nurturing intelligent compassionate space (podcast) to discuss these very important topics which allows guests to share and speak with openness and no fear of judgment.
Deepa Srinivasan, Australia

Do yourself a favour and tune into the awesome podcast, Birthing and Justice, by Ruth DeSouza. Highly recommended for anyone interested in all matters birthing and racial & decolonial justice. I’ve been listening today to what are the some of most intelligent, insightful, warm, and fierce conversations I’ve heard in this space. More of this stuff please. Helen Ngo, Melbourne

Ruth! loving this podcast so much, your warm voice full of wisdom and embrace is such a salve! ❤️ Naomi’s episode sooo strong, Te Reo shone through as a wonderful layer … it makes me teary listening to that language slipping seamlessly into everyday vernacular.
Beth Sometimes, Alice Springs

Amazing podcast talk Dr Ruth! it was very powerful when Dr Naomi compared the land and womens bodies. I have some friends who are going to love this!
Jayne Wood, London

I loved this – have listened to all 3! Please keep this important conversation going 🙏 thank you for your amazing mahi. I also love how the topics could be enormous but you manage to cover lots and lots in just half an hour… so a super digestible entry point to suggest as first step into education as well as balm and validation and further insight & directions to explore further to those already on this learning journey… very cool!
Vic Parsons, Maternal health coordinator, Capital Coast DHB, Wellington

This is a beautiful, thoughtful podcast with extremely high production values on an incredibly important topic. Conversations about birth in Australia are either non existent or really limited so it is wonderful to have this resource which brings us the voices of some of the leading practitioners in changing birth care. Ruth is a warm and passionate interviewer and brings the best out of her amazing guests. Episodes are tight and impactful. As both someone who has birthed two babies at home and a critical race researcher I love this podcast and will be recommending it to everyone I know.
Anastasia Kanjere, Melbourne

Dear Dr Ruth, I just wanted to get in touch to let you know I recently came across your Birthing and Justice podcast and really enjoyed it. I am currently convening an Indigenous Health unit and am very pleased to be able to use your episodes with Karel Williams and Dr Naomi Simmonds when we cover maternity. 250 plus students should shortly be tuning in! Ella Kurz, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Public Health, University of Canberra

This is a really important podcast on birth, racism and decolonisation. Each episode is powerful, informative, intelligent and warm. Each speaker contributes a dynamic combination of knowledge, experience and resolute commitment. Together the 3 episodes make a robust and hard-hitting combination. Thank you Ruth De Souza, Dr. Naomi Simmonds, Karel Williams, Dr Mimi Niles, and all who have contributed to this really important mahi.
Anna Fielder, New Zealand

This is a brilliant podcast Ruth – warm, engaging and decolonising, I love it! I’m not a health care worker, but you really struck a chord given my own experience. I’m passionate about midwifery care, especially midwifery group practice and home birthing where/if possible, and reclaiming control of our bodies from that default position of medical intervention. I hope this becomes an essential resource for students, practitioners and educators – congratulations.
Dr Natalie Harkin Senior Research Fellow, Flinders University.

If you still think birth is not political. It really frustrates me that when women talk about the significance of birthing there are still some feminists who think it is no more than some kind of middle-class competitiveness/internalised misogyny about vaginal birth versus caesarean or hippy indulgences. This is an amazing podcast series by Dr Ruth De Souza, who I have been friends with for a long time after we met through maternal feminism circles, and it is about birthing and justice. I think you’ll love it. Imagine being moved away from all your friends and family right when you are getting ready to have your first baby. What kind of birthing system thinks that is ok? Imagine going into hospital to have a baby when you and your husband’s mothers experienced babies being removed from them in hospitals. What kind of terror might a hospital birth hold for you? Imagine being an Aboriginal woman who wants to bring soil or plants from home in with her when she births in a hospital miles from her community. Does hospital policy cater for that? Will she be ridiculed or respected for the request?
What is the cost of failing to be truly woman-centred in birth? And what if your woman-centred birthing centre doesn’t include brown and black women?
Birth is political. Andie Fox, Queensland

Have started watching the podcasts – amazing guests so enthralling – an amazing resource you have created Ruth!
Dr Nimisha Waller, Postgraduate Programme Leader, Midwifery, Senior Lecturer, Auckland University of Technology

This is such a great podcast! Dr Ruth is a warm and engaging host and her guests are smart, insightful and grounded. And they’re so interesting! You always learn something new. The production quality is awesome. I especially like how this podcast opens up a reflective space to consider how pregnancy and birth care is experienced by people of colour and first nations people. So worth a listen.
Liz Stokes, Sydney.

Media
Interview with Diaspora blues a show about home, community, and belonging. Hosted by Bigoa Chuol and Ayan Shirwa. Regular contributors Serious Meerkat and Cookie.
Blog about why I made a podcast reproduced by Croakey a not-for-profit public interest social journalism organisation and The Power to Persuade, a platform for discussion about social policy in Australia in a global context.

Resources
Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE)
Healthtalk Australia
How is Dad going?
PANDA National Perinatal Depression Hotline
Parentline