Knowing what she knows now, Chauntel Norris looks back on her own birthing experience as traumatic. After attending a friend’s home birth and witnessing how the entire room centered around her and her needs, Chauntel suddenly felt cheated in her birthing experience.  

Studies show that more people die during pregnancy and childbirth in the U.S. than in any other similarly wealthy country in the world, with Black and Indigenous people disproportionately affected.  

Despite research supporting the role that midwives and doulas can play in helping to reverse the devastating trend of rising maternal deaths, they are rarely covered by insurance and states often don’t officially recognize them to attend births. 

When Chauntel co-founded The Baobab Birth Collective, she made it her mission to provide the support and access to information that is so often lacking in maternal care, in an effort to prevent people fearing what should be an empowering experience.  

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • What the role of a doula is
  • The challenges surrounding hospital doula agreements
  • How Chauntel was introduced to the reproductive justice movement
  • What The Baobab Birth Collective is, who it serves, and how it’s furthering reproductive justice
  • Ways that you can help advance better maternal health outcomes and support doulas

More about Chauntel: 

Chauntel Norris ​is the co-founder of The Baobab Birth Collective, as well as do-director for the Alabama Prison Birth Project. She is a native of Birmingham, AL, and attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she earned her B.A. in African American Studies & her B.S. in Psychology. Chauntel is a DONA trained birth & postpartum Doula, a Lamaze certified childbirth educator and a certified lactation counselor. She is an active member of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, a community transformer for Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, and serves on the board for the Alabama Breastfeeding Committee. 

Resources for Episode 018:

  • Follow The Baobab Birth Collective on Instagram: @baobabbirth 
  • The film “Tutwiler” gives an insight into the lives of women who give birth while incarcerated at one of America's most notorious prisons. We see their struggle to stay connected with their children on the outside and how the mothers turn to a group of doulas for support through pregnancy, labor and separation from their newborns. 
Some Terms and Linked Definitions 
  • Doula 
  • Reproductive Justice: The human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.  

HEALTH Program Description:

The Health Equity & Access Leadership Training Hub (hereinafter The HEALTH Program) is the newly established grant program of the National Women’s Health Network. The aim of The HEALTH Program is to shift paradigms and shape policies from grassroots-to-grasstops by helping build the capacity of organizations and bolstering their engagement in high impact legislative advocacy efforts. The HEALTH Program’s main areas of focus include: (1) addressing health inequities that disproportionately impact historically and systematically marginalized communities, (2) expanding healthcare access through legislative advocacy, and (3) improving health outcomes for women—in all their diversities—across the lifespan.


The primary purpose of this podcast is to educate and entertain. All views expressed by the persons featured on the Your Health Unlocked podcast are their own and do not reflect the opinions of the NWHN or its affiliates. Information provided in this podcast does not constitute medical advice. Consult your own provider for any medical issues that you may be experiencing.

Your Health Unlocked